Geneva Steel puts a lot of bread on a lot of Utah tables.
That was the conclusion of a recent study to measure the ripple effect of Geneva Steel on the Utah economy. The study was conducted by the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.Comparing Geneva Steel to a rock tossed into a big pond, which is Utah, these are the ripples:
In 1990, the steel mill employed 2,698 people and paid them a total of $117 million in wages and benefits. Additionally, Geneva paid $13.2 million in taxes to state and local governments.
"The total personal income to Utah households generated by Geneva in Utah was $262 million. That's more than 1 percent of the total personal income earned in Utah last year," bureau director R. Thayne Robson said in a presentation Wednesday to the Salt Lake Rotary Club.
Although the steelmaker employs about 2,700 people, its operations support a number of spinoff jobs and businesses. Robson said 9,825 jobs "grew out of spending by Geneva Steel."
"I think it's important to understand the Geneva mill is an extraordinary asset to the Utah economy," he said.
While Geneva makes a big splash in Utah's economy, it only sells about 1 percent of its product in the state. The rest is sold on the national and international markets. Geneva president and chief executive officer Joseph A. Cannon said the Utah manufacturer "competes fairly directly with foreign steel companies."
Robson added, "We don't get rich trading among one another (in Utah). We get rich outside of Utah."
Geneva had some fairly lean beginnings. "It was a transaction that would appeal to Rotarians. It basically was a community service project," Cannon said of the deal to resuscitate the mill.
The only integrated steel mill west of the Mississippi River, Geneva may be the only integrated mill that operates in the black, Cannon said.
Most mills produce finished steel from melted scrap materials and alloys. Integrated mills produce steel from raw materials. "We take dirt basically and we make steel out it," Cannon said.
Although it is not a modern mill, Geneva is undergoing improvements that will make it as modern as any steel mill in the world.
The $3 million in improvements will boost the mill's production ability by 30 percent. "We will be able to make steel in a day. No integrated steel mill can do that today."