Portage Steel Expansion Comes Amid Focus On Ports, Infrastructure

Dec 15, 2016

A Minnesota steel company is spending almost $9 million dollars to grow its operations at the Port of Indiana in Burns Harbor, as state officials say they’ll prioritize Indiana ports and infrastructure investment in 2017.

Ratner Steel Supply plans to double the size of its four-year-old operations in Portage, just east of Gary.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation says Ratner will add a few dozen jobs and expand its ability to ship steel across the Region.

Ports of Indiana CEO Rich Cooper says he hopes the state will invest more in those shipping connections next year – especially in new rail lines.

“If we could open up some other routes into our port in Northwest Indiana, that’d be very helpful to us,” Cooper says.

He spoke at a pre-legislative session economic development panel with Bill Hanna, the CEO of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

Hanna echoed the need for investment in rail and in smaller companies like Ratner. He says the Region can no longer stake its economy on big steel mills.

“All those things have changed. The skill sets are still there – they’re shrinking, though,” he says. “And then it’s raising the prominence of the small- to mid-size employer, and we need to understand what their needs are.”

Hanna thinks state investment in training workers for those companies would help the Region grow its population and economy.