GEORGETOWN, SC (WCSC) - Representatives with United Steelworkers say they are confident the reopening of the Georgetown steel mill is imminent.
The union held a news conference in Georgetown to announce it had finalized a labor agreement with London-based Liberty House Group to reopen the mill. Meetings recently held in Pittsburgh led to the agreement, union officials said.
Many residents in the area are in favor or the steel mill reopening.
Georgetown resident, Thomas Herman, says three of his brothers worked at the ArcelorMittal mill before it closed.
"I think if they opened back again, we'd all be a happy camper, that's more work coming here." Herman said.
Georgetown resident Denise Austin says she would be interested in working there in the future.
She drives an hour to work in Mount Pleasant because of the lack of options for her in the city she lives.
"The pay is horrible down here in certain locations and stuff, so I believe it would be a good thing," Austin said.
President of the United Steelworkers James Sanderson says he felt it was necessary to give the community an update on the plans for the site.
"I promise you that steel mill will open very soon," Sanderson said.
They also say the closing on the sale of the mill from ArcelorMittal to Liberty House Group, which had experienced numerous delays since it was announced in April, is also expected to happen in the very near future.
An official with the Liberty House Group also says they are very close to having the contract completed.
They say once the the contract is completed it will take about 10 to12 weeks to restart operations.
The mill closed in 2015 and more than 200 people lost their jobs.
At one point earlier this year, the city considered redeveloping the space into a mix-use recreational space.
The remaining concern of the union is if Georgetown City Council will look to rezone the property from heavy industrial to mixed-use, thereby jeopardizing the plan to reopen the mill.
Mayor candidate and current council member Brendon Barber supports the reopening plans.
He was at the news conference along with State Representative Carl Anderson who is also in support of the mill reopening.
"If we vote to rezone we would be sending the wrong message." Barber said.
The old steel mill opened in 1969, running 47 years before closing its doors in the summer of 2015.
If the mill reopens, it could add up to 300 jobs back into the Georgetown economy.
"That steel mill helped a lot of people around here and out of Georgetown County, because there was a whole lot of people working at that plant. The people who were working there were doing well," Herman said.
Liberty House Group says they intend on rehiring workers from Georgetown.
They have also been working closely with the current property owners to spruce up the space.
So far Liberty House Group has led the efforts to repaint the mural that welcomes drivers into Georgetown.
It has not been determined if Georgetown City Council will discuss rezoning the steel mill property next week because the agenda for the council meeting has not been finalized, according to the acting city administrator.