It’s never been a secret that Charlotte businessman Dan DiMicco, former CEO of steel manufacturer Nucor, has close ties to President Donald Trump.
But when announcing plans to expand one of its mills in Ohio Wednesday, the publicly traded, Charlotte-based company explicitly praised Trump and his campaign promise to boost manufacturing.
The unusual comment – made in a press release – suggests that DiMicco’s former employer maintains its affinity with Trump at a time when corporations are cautious about mixing politics and business.
Nucor said that it is spending $85 million to upgrade the technology at its steel bar mill in Marion, Ohio. The project could add an additional 15 jobs at the mill, which already employs 265 people, Nucor said.
“(We) want to thank the administration for making strong trade enforcement a priority and for its commitment to restoring American manufacturing,” Mike Hess, general manager of Nucor Steel Marion, said in a statement.
Nucor spokeswoman Katherine Miller declined to say whether the company received any financial incentives for the project, but that it has a “good working relationship with local and state officials in Ohio.”
The entire steel industry, Miller added, has long advocated for the federal government to enforce trade laws, and it has recognized the efforts of previous administrations that have done so.
“We’ve been very pleased with the new administration’s focus on trade enforcement and manufacturing issues in the first few months since taking office,” Miller said.
DiMicco, who lives in Waxhaw and was CEO of Nucor until late 2012, has served as a Trump trade adviser. Like Trump, he has been critical of free-trade policies, which he says have cost the U.S. millions of manufacturing jobs, and have contributed to the collapse of the middle class.
The Marion mill investment is “certainly something I’m in favor of, and certainly something (Nucor CEO) John Ferriola is in favor of. John and I are very much of like mind,” DiMicco told the Observer Thursday.
Nucor’s project reflects how manufacturers see the U.S. economy “doing much better” under Trump, DiMicco said.
Citing Trump’s economy-centered campaign promises – including investment in infrastructure, energy and tax reform, and construction of a border wall with Mexico – DiMicco said he expects manufacturers will start start buying more large-scale equipment, something they have been putting off in the recent “anemic economy.”
“People are sensing there will be a significant turnaround in policies,” he said.