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Hennepin steel mill sold

The Hennepin Steel Mill has finally found a buyer. It’s been reported a company from Michigan named IPS Steel has purchased the mill which has sat empty since early 2010, when former owner ArcelorMittal closed the plant.

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock announced the sale on Nov. 15 through a press release to the Peoria Journal Star. According to the report, Schock stated it was “a good sign for Hennepin and Putnam County.”

Schock did not return telephone calls by press time.

However, the news report from that point raises more questions than answers.

Although the news release from Schock’s office quoted Putnam County Board President Duane Calbow, Calbow said he found out about the sale through the article in the Journal Star.

“I’m cautiously optimistic, but we really don’t know very much,” Calbow said. “I’m hoping to have a conversation with the company to find out their plans for the facility.”

Searches for a company named IPS Steel in Michigan have come up empty as of press time. Reports name Kishan Sutariya as IPS project manager. Sutariya is the head of Technology Consulting in Detroit, Mich. Phone calls to the business went unanswered.

Former owner ArcelorMittal has confirmed the purchase of the site to a company by that name.

“ArcelorMittal sold 873 acres of land and nearly one million square feet of existing buildings to IPS Steel LLC on Nov. 13,” ArcelorMittal external communications senior specialist Heather Ross said. “ArcelorMittal is pleased that this sale will turn the property back to productive use and ultimately create new jobs and revenue for the city and region.”

ArcelorMittal will not disclose additional details about the real estate transaction. The company rebuffed all attempts by other steel companies to purchase the mill at the time of its closing.

There is also no record of the sale at Putnam County Clerk and Recorder of Deeds Dan Kuhn’s office, which would indicate the sale is not official. As of press time, no paperwork of any sort has been filed with the office.

Calbow has confirmed the current plans call for razing most of the 50-year-old mill building for scrap. Some of the structure will be renovated for other industrial and manufacturing purposes.

“We have yet to see any plans, so we’re a bit in the dark,” Calbow said. “However, we will work diligently with whoever ends up owning the site to do what’s best for Putnam County and its residents.”

“Until I see some papers, I’m a little skeptical,” Illinois State Rep. Frank Mautino said. “If it does happen, it could be a good thing. Everything inside the building is gone, so I’m interested in seeing what’s going to happen.”

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