Duluth Works - Legacy


The story of the Duluth Works is one of overspeculation, and the use of the weight of politics and government involvement in private enterprise for the attempted benefit of the many of an otherwise economically depressed region. U.S. Steel never wanted to purposely build a steel-making facility in Duluth, but the weight of the State of Minnesota with a threat to impose ore taxes that would hurt a healthy profit margin on the iron ore removed from the state ultimately proved a powerful negotiating weapon against the largest corporation in the world at the time, the United States Steel Corporation. When U.S. Steel agreed to build the plant in Duluth, the state dropped its iron ore tax threats. When the Corporation wished to pull out or impose negative actions on its Duluth plant, the State stepped in with its leverage again. This continued until the 1970s when the hurting U.S. steel market was in such trouble, that U.S. Steel had little choice but to restructure its operations for the future, or stare its own demise down in the face of foreign labor and production competition, new environmental laws, outdated technologies and old facilities.

The closing of Duluth Works foreshadowed events that were taking place all over the nation during the 1970s and 80s in traditional steel strongholds like South Chicago, Homestead and Pittsburgh. Plants that were old and outdated for many years, were now closing all over the country throwing thousands out of jobs. It was a trend that didn't reverse itself until the mid 1990s, when growing world demand, newer technology and consolidation within the industry has brought it back from near death.

Today, U.S. Steel is one of the most efficient producers of steel in the world. But it took hard lessons to get there. The story of the Duluth Works is one of those lessons.

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Famous quotes containing the word legacy:

    What is popularly called fame is nothing but an empty name and a legacy from paganism.
    Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1466–1536)