March 29, 2017

Steel Exec Sees Hope for Improving Infrastructure

Earlier this month, the American Society of Civil Engineers issued its latest report card on the state of America’s infrastructure. Like last time, the country didn’t exactly make the Dean’s List. ASCE’s grade for the condition of the overall infrastructure grid was a woeful D+, and its assessment of the nation’s bridges was only slightly better at C+.

“We received a D+, the same poor grade we received four years ago. A D+ is unacceptable,” said Chad Utermark, an executive vice president at Nucor Corp., who spoke at the recent Platts Steel Markets North America Conference in Chicago. “Our country deserves better than that.”

Nucor believes some improvement may be on the horizon. President Trump has proposed a $1 trillion investment program to revitalize the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Moreover, he has proposed it in a way that may be acceptable to budget-conscious Republicans in Congress.

Trump’s plan calls for heavy contributions from private industry, with substantial tax credits to those committing to construction projects. One analysis suggests public spending would amount to just $150 billion in this plan, or half the most recent public spending bill approved by Congress and signed by the Obama administration.

A $1 trillion spending program would have a significant effect on the domestic steel industry. It would boost demand for steel products by roughly 5 million tons per year, or about 5 percent of the typical annual consumption.

“At Nucor, we are optimistic and hopeful this will happen. We’ve been working hard to be ready for this, to take advantage of an infrastructure initiative. I will challenge myself and you, if this happens and we’re not ready, shame on us,” Utermark told the gathered steel executives.

For more from the Platts conference, see the April issue of Metal Center News


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Tuesday, July 25, 2017