Durand community mostly excited about steel mill plans with 'Project Tim'

DURAND (WJRT) (12/04/17) - A mystery for months, details of a massive steel mill planned for the Durand area trickled out on Monday.

The multi-billion dollar development, which had been dubbed "Project Tim," promises to completely remake the way of life in the small Shiawassee County community if it comes to fruition.

Many people are excited for the prospect of new development and the hundreds of jobs likely to come while others are concerned about losing the rural charm Durand and Vernon Township offer.

Tim Gouldman, manager of Papa Joe's restaurant, welcomes the opportunity to bring more money into the community, which would help local businesses.

"I always wondered why they kept it a secret, maybe backlash or something," he said.

New Steel International, which is based in Ohio, is the lead investor in the steel mill development. The project is planned for nearly 1,000 acres of mostly farm land that developers have under option mostly north and east of Durand on both sides of I-69.

"We pretty excited about it," Gouldman said. "Bring a lot of people to the area, I'm a community guy, so hopefully bring more jobs to the area."

He's heard a mix of opinions about the prospect of a sprawling steel mill altering the local agricultural landscape.

"People assumed it was going to be a steel mill, but till we got confirmation, that's just rumor and hear-say," Gouldman said. "A lot of people excited, a lot of people don't want the industrial traffic, I guess."

Durand City Manager Colleen O'Toole discussed the project during Monday evening's City Council meeting and what it could mean for the city.

She noted that the ambitious plans still require some support from the U.S. Department of Energy and billions of dollars in financing before any dirt gets moved.

A mix of residents excited about the prospect of growth coming to the community and concerned about changes coming to the tight-knit town commented during the meeting.

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