Chamber urges members to ‘help save’ AK jobsBy Thomas
Gnau, Journal Business Writer, E-mail: email@example.com
The Mid-Miami Valley Chamber of Commerce is going to bat for a
business that isn’t a chamber member.
Of course, it’s not just any business. AK Steel Corp. is
Middletown’s and Butler County’s biggest employer.
In a recent chamber newsletter, titled “Under Construction,” the
chamber urges members to “help save” AK and area jobs.
Readers are urged to contact Gov. Bob Taft to impress on him how
the loss of local AK jobs would affect the area.
Taft spokesman Orest Holubec said Wednesday the governor’s office
has received 830 letters, e-mails and postcards on AK in the past
“It’s heavy,” Holubec said.
With the chamber newsletter is a six-paragraph form letter to
Taft, asking him to “resolve” economic challenges that AK’s leaders
have said threaten about 1,000 high-paying jobs at AK’s Middletown
AK has balked at the prospect of punitive fines from a state and
federal lawsuit alleging that the company has broken environmental
laws. With other possible air pollution control and maintenance
costs looming over the Middletown Works’ “hot,” or steelmaking, end,
AK officials have openly questioned the future of that side of the
“The ripple effect of this job loss would further decimate our
economy, our schools and our quality of life in Middletown and
Southwestern Ohio,” the chamber’s letter says.
But Holubec said correspondence to Taft “is not going to change
the environmental problems at the plant.” He said Taft and Ohio
Environmental Protection Agency Director Christopher Jones are
willing to work “in good faith” with AK on those problems.
Though AK resigned from the chamber in April, the chamber’s
continued support makes sense to AK Vice President of Public Affairs
“We’ve indicated that we’re certainly receptive to rejoining the
chamber,” McCoy said. “So no, I don’t see it as ironic.”
With some 4,000 area employees at its Curtis Street corporate
headquarters and its Middletown plant, AK is the area’s “No. 1
employer,” McCoy said.
“That affects many of the other employers,” he said.
AK left the chamber on the same day Stanley Chesley — a
Cincinnati attorney who has litigated against AK — appeared as the
invited speaker at a chamber luncheon in April.
In the weeks following AK’s withdrawal, the chamber president and
the chairman of its board of directors quit. Former Armco and local
chamber executive Richard Slagle has worked as an interim director.
Slagle could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The chamber letter also invites Taft to visit Middletown and meet
its citizens and civic leaders.
Holubec said he hasn’t spoken with Taft about such a visit.