David Burritt, president and CEO of U.S. Steel, told CNBC that his company plans to add approximately 800 new jobs this year at a plant in Illinois.
That’s not including the additional jobs that will be created throughout the community as a result of the reopening of the facility. Burritt credited President Donald Trump tariffs as a “great first step” in making this happen.
“We’ve been in a trade war for 30 years,” Burritt told CNBC’s Jackie DeAngeli on Monday. “That’s a really long time. And finally we have a president in place that’s actually taking action so we can get everyone to the table.”
In March, Trump announced steel and aluminum tariffs to correct what he deemed were unfair trading practices. Many in the steel and aluminum industries, including Burritt, praised the president for his actions.
The same month, U.S. Steel announced it would reopen a steel plant in Granite City, Illinois. Burritt said the reopening would likely add an additional 500 jobs.
The plan: restart two blast furnaces and steelmaking facilities at the company’s Granite City Works integrated plant — one now and the other in October. The facility had been idle since December 2015. Burritt said the plant closed because there were not enough customers.
On Monday, Burritt said the combined job gains from reopening the two furnaces will actually be closer to 800 — an it’s not just jobs at U.S. Steel.
“It’s the other jobs it created from this,” he said, and pointed out that more positions at his company mean more people will be needed in the local community at restaurants and gas stations and other service locations.
Market watchers, however, have been on edge in fear of possible trade wars since Trump announced the tariffs.
But Burritt said that’s not a major concern.
“We’ll have to see how all that plays out,” he said.
For now, “the actions that the president has taken have been incredibly helpful to us,” he said.
“You have to be able to make things in the United States,” Burritt said. “If you outsource fundamental foundational things to your country, then you’re at the whim of bad actors and others who can shut you down.”
WATCH: U.S. Steel facility reopens