US President Barack Obama has thanked London-based Indian steel baron Lakshmi Mittal for investing in recession-hit America and creating jobs, as he visited a key ArcelorMittal unit that is the largest supplier of steel to the auto sector in this country.
The US president visited the ArcelorMittal Cleveland Steel Factory in Cleveland, Ohio, on Thursday.
"It's a great honour for all of us at ArcelorMittal Cleveland to welcome President Obama here today. We've been making steel in Cleveland for one hundred years," Mittal said in his welcome address.
"The link between Cleveland's success and our investment in advanced high strength steel has been very important to our success," Mittal said.
This year alone, the company has invested $70 million resulting in creation of 150 new jobs, the industrialist said.
He said, in the coming years, "we will help our automotive customers meet the demanding fuel-efficiency standards that will be required in the run up to 2025."
In a novel gesture, Mittal handed over the mike to his employee Tom Scott, who has worked for ArcelorMittal Cleveland for 40 years as a crane operator, to introduce the President.
In his remarks, Obama praised ArcelorMittal for turning around the factory which was almost shut down during the economic recession at the beginning of his career.
"Today, the steel you make in Cleveland is some of the strongest you'll find anywhere in the world. It's one of the most productive plants in the world. Best workers in the world," the US President said. "What's remarkable is, when you think about it, go back to where this plant was just a few years ago. The economy was in free fall, auto industry on the brink of collapse, and that meant demand for steel had dried up. The blast furnaces went quiet."
"About 1,200 steelworkers punched out for what might have been the last time. And that all came at the end of a decade when the middle class was already working harder and harder just to get by, and nearly one in three American manufacturing jobs had vanished - a lot of them going overseas. and that could have devastated this community for good," he continued.
The President said after this, some "tough" choices were made and besides steps to rescue and retool the American auto industry, and this saved over a million jobs.
"I want to thank your CEO, Lakshmi Mittal, for investing in America and the Cleveland area," Obama said.