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Benteler Group plans to build its first steel tubing plant in US

It is reported that Mitsubishi's Savannah Machinery Works could soon have a new neighbor at the intersection of interstates 16 and 95.

As per report, Benteler Group AG, a major European conglomerate, plans to build its first US steel tubing plant and is reportedly looking hard at the Pooler mega site. If Georgia does, in fact, land what's currently being called Project Delta, it could mean up to 700 new high paying jobs.

Benteler spokeswoman Ms Gudrun Girnus would only confirm that the company is currently looking at several US locations. She said that "Yes, the Benteler Group is looking for opportunities to internationalize its steel tube business by building a plant in the United States. We have a project group working on this, currently investigating the conditions in different states. Decisions will probably be made in the next six months, toward summer."

Benteler, a private, family owned conglomerate with operational headquarters in Germany, is one of the world's largest independent automotive suppliers and a leading manufacturer and processor of steel tubes.

Benteler's Stahl Rohr division produces high quality steel tubes for the growing global natural gas and oil industries. A Benteler steel tube manufacturing facility would likely take the rest of the mega site's available land.

While Benteler's new steel tube plant will be its first in the US, the company's automotive division has nine plants in this country, most of them in Michigan, providing parts for engines and chassis to major automakers.

Neither state nor local economic development officials would comment on the project, although Mr Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, indicated the mega site continues to draw national and international attention.

He said that "The Pooler mega site is the foremost such property in the Southeast, and we have shown it to companies on a regular basis. It's a prime location that provides easy access to global markets for international companies like Mitsubishi, which has a successful operation there already."

At the Savannah Economic Development Authority, project manager Mr Jerald Mitchell was equally vague. He said that "We cannot comment on any project SEDA may or may not be working on."

But, like Mr Cummiskey, Mr Mitchell noted the mega site is shown to qualified projects on a fairly regular basis.

Indeed, Benteler isn't the only company that has looked at the mega site recently. Several sources have indicated that Caterpillar, which is moving a manufacturing facility back from Japan, has visited the mega site as well as other locations in the state.

A report this week in the Wilmington Star News indicated North Carolina and South Carolina also were in the running for the plant, dubbed Project Roadrunner.

According to Southern Business & Development News magazine, the plant, expected to employ about 1,000 workers, will be Caterpillar's global source for small track tractors and mini hydraulic excavators in North and South America and will export partially assembled mini excavators to Europe.

Illinois based Caterpillar began putting plants in the southern US about 15 years ago where union activity is much lower.

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