SPARROWS POINT, Md. — Relegated to a piece of Baltimore’s history, Bethlehem Steel shut down nearly a decade ago, despite the efforts of Ernie Grecco who rallied the unions against the inevitable closure.
“My heart was broken,” said Grecco. “You know I recall when there was 30,000-plus workers in this facility.”
Now, the same company, which gained approval to launch the first offshore wind farm 17 miles off of the Maryland shoreline has announced plans to more than quadruple that effort and in doing so, it plans to bring steel back to Baltimore.
“When we move forward with Momentum, we will be bringing steel back to Sparrows Point with Sparrows Point Steel,” said US Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski. “It will be the first offshore wind component manufacturing facility in Maryland---one of the first and largest of its kind anywhere in the United States.”
At full capacity, US Wind would operate more than a hundred windmills capable of producing enough energy to power more than 400,000 homes, and greatly enhancing the state’s chance of meeting its goal of producing 50-percent, clean energy over the next decade… not to mention creating new jobs.
“Just from a legacy standpoint, these are the things that I care about---getting things done that are going to have a lasting impact,” said Gov. Larry Hogan. “and I’m going to be proud to look back on this 20 years from now, if I’m lucky enough to still be around, and say, ‘We played a small role in bringing steel back and creating all of these thousands of jobs.”
In the short term, more than 3500 jobs, and as many as 500 permanent jobs to operate the new plant allowing today’s generation of steelworkers to look to the future.
“So many good jobs,” said Grecco. “Not minimum wage jobs or anything like that. These are good jobs with great benefits, good pensions, good health and welfare. We’re very proud of the unions and we’re also very proud of the company that is willing to forge that partnership with us.”