One of the President Trump’s cabinet secretaries, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, is in Hancock County celebrating the ceremonial restarting of Century Aluminum’s potlines. 

It comes months after the president put in place tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

“When we shut down line 5 I never thought I’d see the line come back, much less the plant,” said Dusty Stevens, who spent 12 years working at Century. A few years after three of their potlines shut down, he and his co-workers celebrated its return, months after tariffs on imported steel and aluminum arrived.

“So, when we get this kind of news and the tariffs were put in to place, and we’re making the investment to bring the plant back to life, everyone is more upbeat,” Stevens says.

The restarting of the first of three potlines, closed nearly three years ago, is one part of century’s planned production expansion, which includes 300 new jobs.  It results in $150 million dollars in new investment. Both Governor Matt Bevin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross say when the jobs went away when potlines closed, so did high skill jobs.

“There are certain skills and abilities and products that we have and we make and we own in this country that if we lose them, we have lost more than you can buy with a dollar,” said Gov. Bevin during a meeting with Century workers.

All this comes at a time when other companies across the country cite the tariffs as a reason a downturn in their business and lost jobs. But Secretary Ross says the country has a strategic advantage in place to keep the economy afloat. One advantage Ross cites: low unemployment rates in the U.S.

“The negative effects have not been matched by the positive impacts. You wouldn’t be seeing joblessness go down if there weren’t overall problems in the economy,” says Secretary Ross.

“I believe our administration has the backing of us that everything we’re doing now will keep us open,” adds Stevens.

Link to apply for jobs at Century Aluminum:

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(This story was originally published on August 22, 2018)