Huge step for our city

TIME WILL TELL: Chamber of Commerce President Ron Hay is cautiously optimistic about the future after the latest steel industry developments.
TIME WILL TELL: Chamber of Commerce President Ron Hay is cautiously optimistic about the future after the latest steel industry developments.

Whyalla has taken a huge step with the selection of a preferred bidder for Arrium, but there’s still a long way to go yet.

That was the sentiment from the Whyalla Chamber of Commerce President Ron Hay, a day after the announcement.

“Overall it’s a positive result for Whyalla, but at the end of the day we still have a couple of other steps to take,” he said. “One of those steps is to engage with the state and federal governments and another is the Foreign Investment Review Board decision.”

The sale of Arrium and its local steelworks is subject to approval by the board and the Committee of Creditors.

“I would anticipate that there would be discussions held with those people to go through what is involved with the potential new owners and what that means,” Mr Hay said. “Those things will hopefully be resolved going into this situation.”

Mr Hay said he hoped that the state and federal governments would work together to provide “what the steelworks needs financially and the assistance that the new owner needs”.

“That will make sure the plant has longevity that will benefit the community,” he said.

Mr Hay did not speculate on the potential conditions of the bid by the South Korean consortium.

He said it was unlikely to see people “rush out and start spending money” once the company is sold.

“We will see a period of settling where the owners come in, the business itself settles with them, they get used to our community and people understand what is happening,” he said.

“Then we will see a gradual incline of spending back into our business sector – that is only positive, we understand that will take a little bit of time and we are prepared for that.

“To give credit to the business sector, and the community itself, we have endured 14 months of fairly uncertain times. We’ve worked through that and now we are looking to see what the future holds.”

Businesses have struggled with the downturn in consumer sentiment and spending power as a result of the uncertainty.