College Writing II-8:00
23 September 2012
The Rise, The Fall, and the Rebirth of Youngstown’s Steel Industry
Youngstown Ohio was once a booming steel production city located in Mahoning County just west of the Pennsylvania border. Many young adults who were raised in or around Youngstown can remember hearing about “the good old days” or back when “the mills were up and running.” It was a much different town then. Basically every family from Youngstown had at least one family member who worked in one of the local mills. The local economy was striving, good jobs were readily available, and there was a certain amount of pride about this town. This is the complete opposite of what young adults in Youngstown see and feel today. Since the mills closed in the late 70’s and early 80’s Youngstown has never been quite the same. Anyone who drives down I-680 can see the remains of all the Industrial buildings that now look like the ruins of an abandoned city. The citizens of Youngstown have been looking for some type of an economic boost since the closing of the mills. It was thought by many that the days of being known as the “steel valley” were long gone; however, it looks as if there is a chance at redemption for Youngstown to become a striving steel industry once again.
Youngstown was once known as one of the largest steel cities in America. Steel mills ran along the Mahoning Valley for over 25 miles along the banks of the Mahoning River. Now all of these mills are abandoned industrial buildings that have been disintegrating over the past 30 years. The steel mills in Youngstown employed roughly 10,000 people in the late 1970’s (Wypijewski 1). Youngstown steel producers started to take large hits due to foreign steel producers flooding the market with cut rate steel. This process would later become known as “dumping.” Problems with foreign steel producers did not happen overnight. In the article “Soviet Steel Supremacy?”, it was stated that; in 1958, Alfred S. Glossbrenner, President of Youngstown Sheet and Tube, brought this issue to the light. He spoke at a Cleveland meeting of the American Iron and Steel Institute, he stated that the Soviets steel production had tripled over the last 10 years. He also stated that they would match the US in steel production that year (2). The point that Glossbrenner was trying to make was that once foreign steel producers were able to satisfy their own demand for steel that they would then begin flooding our market. Glossbrenner was right about foreign steel producers. The demand for steel declined over the years due to the fact that foreign companies were selling their steel at prices that were lower than U.S. companies could produce it for. This eventually forced companies like Youngstown Sheet and Tube into bankruptcy. Youngstown’s industrial steel industry eventually took its final breath in late 1979.
There were other problems with Youngstown’s steel industry during the late 70’s. Jules Backman, an economics professor at the New York University, wrote about these problems in his article titled The Steel Industry: Problems and Solutions. Backman stated, that steel producers needed more freedom to solve their own problems. For starters, one major issue was political attacks on price increases. He stated that every time there was hike in prices due to some type of political influence that dumping in the market occurred. He also felt that smaller companies should be aloud and encouraged to merge together in order to become more efficient and productive businesses (10). Backman later stated that labor costs were a major problem and one of the hardest issues to solve (11). Another huge problem with the U.S. steel industry, especially in Youngstown, was that anti-pollution investments need to be written off quickly. It took some companies several years to recover from the cost of these investments (11). Modernizing companies with new...
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