New steel tariffs halt plans for new $7.1 million facility in Gretna's Industrial Park

(Photo courtesy of Pittsylvania County economic development)

PITTSYLVANIA Co., Va. (WSET) -- President Donald Trump's new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports is hitting close to home because the executive action is halting a new facility in Pittsylvania County.

The tariff is a tax on imports, so the idea is to give an advantage to domestic producers of steel and aluminum, according to Timothy Terrell, an adjunct economy professor at Liberty University. The people who benefit from the tariffs are those who work in the steel and aluminum industries, so if you have a steel plant in your area, it's good for you.

Those who are hurt by this will be the foreign producers of steel and aluminum, and also the consumers of products that are made with steel and aluminum, like a company in Gretna.

The town's industrial park will now remain empty.

In January, then Virginia Secretary of Commerce & Trade, Todd Haymore, a native of Pittsylvania County, announced that Amthor International was investing $7.1 million to expand the facility, adding 90 new jobs.

Amthor International planned to build and move to a 100,000 square foot facility in Gretna's currently empty industrial park, but the narrative has changed a bit for the family owned tank truck making company.

"Sadly we found out that the new construction of their facility was not going to occur now," said Ben Farmer, the Pittsylvania County supervisor.

Amthor International co-owner Brian Amthor said President Trump's decision to put new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports is partially to blame, placing a 25-percent tax on steel.

"Our steel supplier hit us with a 20-percent steel increase," Amthor said.

He says it's a double whammy, costing them more to build their trucks and costing a lot more to build a new facility.

"We needed to take into account our 120 families because we have workers and families that rely on those jobs and we need to make the smart decision to make sure that they have jobs for a long time," Amthor continued.

So now the company will just expand its current facility, keeping the corporate headquarters in Gretna.

"The 90 jobs are still coming and from what I understand 20 have already been hired by Amthor," Farmer added.

Amthor said he's sad things had to go this way, but he's still able to grow the company at a third of the cost and he plans to break ground on the expansion within the next two months.

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