President Trump will arrive in Granite City Thursday to a mostly welcoming audience that will include many steelworkers who have returned to the job.
The president is expected to be there from 1 to 2 p.m., local leaders say.
The Chamber of Commerce Southwestern Madison County on Wednesday issued a call to members to create a positive image of the city. Groups are anticipated to gather at 16th Street and Madison Avenue, in the shadow of U.S. Steel’s Granite City Works, which resumed some operations this month after nearly a two-year idling. Members of the Masters Voice Choir are expected to appear at 19th Street and Madison Avenue.
People will be gathering around 11 a.m., the chamber said.
The Chamber of Commerce asked members to display a flag or to program any electronic billboard with a welcoming message.
The president announced a 25 percent tariff on steel imports in March, leading to what some feel will become an ongoing, increased demand for American steel production. U.S. Steel said its decision to resume operations in Granite City was in part because of that action.
Many dignitaries and elected officials are expected to appear.
U.S. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said he expects to be in attendance with hundreds of steelworkers, to help share their stories. Davis represents Madison County with U.S. Reps. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, and John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.
Davis on Wednesday shared the stories of Bert Elliott and Pat Archer, two Granite City steelworkers who will attend the president’s visit alongside Davis.
“After being out of work for 26 months, I was proud to return to Granite City Works this March,” said Elliott. “Over the last several months, hundreds of steelworkers like myself have been able to get back to what we do best: producing quality, American-made steel that is the best in the world. I’m pleased and thankful to be back working in Granite City.”
“As a third-generation worker at Granite City Steel, it is humbling to see the president come to Madison County to help celebrate the return of hundreds of quality jobs,” Pat Archer said. “The steel industry provides jobs that supports thousands of families throughout the area. Returning to work has been uplifting to me and my family, and has allowed me to reopen my small business in Troy, Ill.”
Davis added: “So much of the focus has been about what could happen and fear of the unknown that I think some have lost sight of what has happened and what these jobs mean to these workers and their families. ,” said Davis. “You can hear stories like Bert and Pat’s across my district and throughout the country who have been put back to work because of policies in Washington that are helping this economy grow.”
Since coming to Congress, Davis said he has been working to get stronger trade enforcement so American companies, like Granite City Works, can fight back against China who for years have violated our trade laws in order to decimate our manufacturing industry. This is about good-paying jobs that have come back to this community and they should be celebrated.”
Steel manufacturing is not only important because of the direct jobs it provides, but also the revenue it generates to the area.
“The Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois supports the rebuilding of U.S. Steel Corp. in Granite City, Illinois,” said Ronda Sauget, executive director. “This plant supports a significant number of good paying sustainable jobs in the facility and hundreds of steel industry related positions in our region. Producing steel generates tremendous backward and forward supply chain of revenue generating activities and well paid jobs for so many people. We are proud to see U.S. Steel building its workforce and diversifying its product production lines to have a more stable economic future at the facility. Producing high quality steel in our regional economy is good for Granite City and good for our region!”
In 2015, Granite City Works laid off nearly 2,000 workers, but has since brought back many of these jobs citing market demand and efforts to stop illegal trade practices.
In 2015, Davis, Bost and Shimkus championed legislation to strengthen enforcement rules against illegal trade practices, such as the dumping of foreign products like steel into U.S. markets by China. The American Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act was signed into law by President Obama as part of H.R. 1295, the Trade Preferences Extension Act. The measure was applauded by the United States Steel Corp., Steel Manufacturers Association, the United Steel Workers, and local economic development groups.