The White House Sunday night announced that President Trump will visit Granite City Steel on Thursday marking the first visit to Illinois by the President.
The President’s visit will showcase that Granite City Steel, which had closed operation prior to the President’s election, has now reopened in the wake of the administration’s applying tariffs on steel and aluminum, and has announced it is hiring with 600 openings.
Granite City Steel is owned by US Steel and had closed its operations in December of 2015 in the wake of what the company had described then as a weak market based on a number of countries flooding the US market with cheap steel imports, as well as the slow-growth economy.
In March of this year, the administration applied a 25% tariff on steel imports. That coupled with the economy now growing at twice the rate it had in the past decade [ 2nd quarter GDP growth numbers to be released later this week], has combined to make US Steel see a value in reopening the plant and rehiring.
Economic analysts are expecting the GDP growth numbers to show that the economy is now growing at 4% or more. The economy during the Obama years had never grown at even 3% on an annual level, with an 8 year average growth rate of 2.6%, with several years of growth below 2%. In fact, it’s been over 10 years, including the last year of the Bush administration, since the economy’s growth rate topped 3%.
Mr Trump’s first visit to Illinois also comes in the backdrop of the race for Governor. The Democratic candidate for Governor, JB Pritzker, has made opposition to many of the President’s policies a central part of his campaign. By contrast, Governor Rauner, who is facing a tough bid for re-election, has largely avoided any ties to President Trump. So the question is whether Gov Rauner will opt to appear with President Trump at Thursday’s event, as it showcases a positive Illinois business story, resulting in more jobs being created.
The Pritzker campaign have already signaled they will be working to again use the anti-Trump sentiment in Illinois, to damage Gov Rauner. And Pritzker’s campaign would love to have photos of Gov Rauner standing next to President Trump, that they could use in their campaign ads between now and November.