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Essex steel plant to close in February

A steel processing plant in Essex is scheduled to close in February, putting 54 employees out of work, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The facility, at 8911 Kelso Drive, is owned by Worthington Steel, a division of Worthington Industries Inc., a metals manufacturing company based in Columbus, Ohio.

Worthington Steel

A steel processing plant in Essex is closing down in February 2014 due to the slowing supply chain in Maryland. (The Daily Record Photo/Maximilian Franz).

The plant, which handles steel splitting, rolling and cutting, is a casualty of the crumbling steel industry, according to a filing by Worthington with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“With the consolidation of the steel industry, many of the mills that previously supplied the Baltimore facility have closed, negatively impacting the supply chain there,” the filing says.

“The company has concluded that it can more efficiently service its customers in the Mid-Atlantic Region from other Worthington facilities and processing partners.”

The plant is less than 12 miles from the old Bethlehem Steel complex at Sparrows Point, whose successor owner, RG Steel, filed for bankruptcy in May 2012.

The SEC filing said Worthington expects to retain most of the Essex plant’s business at other company locations and said it doesn’t expect the closure to have a material impact on the company’s financial performance. Worthington Industries’ stock closed Wednesday at $40.58, off 86 cents, or about 2 percent.

A Worthington spokeswoman declined to comment on the layoffs or the closure except to say the company told the 54 employees affected by the closure on Tuesday. State officials said they were told Wednesday.

The effective date of the closure is Feb. 10, and Fronda Cohen, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development, said her office has reached out to the employees and is available to help them during the transition, whether that means beefing up their resumes or helping them apply for unemployment insurance.

“It’s always difficult when a company makes a business decision to close a facility, and it’s particularly difficult this time of year for the workers and their families,” Cohen said. “Baltimore County’s Workforce Development Centers stand ready to help the company and individuals as they look to the next step in their careers.”

Production at the Essex facility will wind down over the coming months, according to the SEC filing. Employees will be given the opportunity to apply for openings at other Worthington facilities, and those who do not stay with Worthington will be given severance and outplacement packages, the filing said.

Worthington Industries operates 82 facilities in 11 countries and has about 10,000 employees. It has two other locations in Maryland — in Baltimore and Harford counties.