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Granite City residents celebrate return of 500 steel jobs

GRANITE CITY, Ill. (AP) — Residents and business owners in a small Illinois town outside St. Louis are celebrating after U.S. Steel Corp. announced it is reinstating 500 jobs for the reopening of a steel processing facility.

U.S. Steel announced Wednesday it will restart a blast furnace next month in Granite City. The announcement came a day before President Donald Trump's action to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from all foreign countries with the exception of Mexico and Canada, the Chicago Tribune reported .

"Our Granite City Works facility and employees, as well as the surrounding community, have suffered too long from the unending waves of unfairly traded steel products that have flooded U.S. markets," said David B. Burritt, president and CEO of U.S. Steel.

The town was hit hard in 2015 when the company said it would idle its Granite City plant and cut 2,000 jobs.

"The steelworkers' mentality — I think a lot of them were slow to admit they needed help, but we tried to show them it's not a handout, it's a hand up," said Russell Homyer, manager of the Community Care Center, which helped provide monthly food boxes to steelworkers' families during the time of the layoffs.

Residents said that the number of jobs returning may seem small but the move is a positive step forward.

"We've had a lot of news that hasn't been good for so long," said Mike DeBruce, owner of the Park Grill, which backs up to the steel plant. "It's good to have something positive."

Mayor Ed Hagnauer called the jobs a "morale builder."

"These are very good jobs and we appreciate these jobs being here," he said. "The community was built around this steel plant, the community wasn't built first."

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