Suttle claim that Omaha Steel's move is 'falling apart' is news to firm's president - Omaha.com
Published Friday, April 26, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:34 pm
Suttle claim that Omaha Steel's move is 'falling apart' is news to firm's president

Video: Watch the mayoral candidates talk about Omaha Steel Castings

* * * * *

Two days after Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle said a deal to move Omaha Steel Castings to Wahoo, Neb., was falling apart, the company's president said his new factory will be ready to pour its first casting this June, months ahead of schedule.

Omaha Steel President Phil Teggart said concrete was poured at the site six weeks ago. And 25 semis are scheduled to deliver equipment to the site over the next few days, he said.

“As the owner of the company, I would think I'd know if there was a problem,” Teggart said. “There is absolutely nothing.”

Yet at a mayoral debate Tuesday with challenger Jean Stothert, Suttle made it sound as if the company's construction had hit a snag.

Stothert had pointed to Omaha Steel as an example of Suttle's administration driving businesses out of Omaha, which Suttle countered.

“The Wahoo deal is falling apart, and we're making efforts right now between my office and the Chamber (of Commerce) to bring them back and site them in north Omaha where they needed to be all along,” Suttle said at the debate, which was sponsored by The World-Herald and UNO Television.

Omaha Steel President Phil Teggart

“We are actively pursuing bringing them back to Omaha.”

Teggart said there was no truth to the mayor's assertion.

In fact, he said, he hadn't heard from anyone with the city or the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce in the 15 months since he decided to take his plant to Wahoo.

However, after The World-Herald started asking about Suttle's assertion, City Planning Director Rick Cunningham called Teggart two times Thursday afternoon.

“Do they think I'm going to put a $15 million plant on wheels and just roll it back to Omaha?” Teggart said. “I'm disgusted.”

Omaha Steel announced in January 2012 that it would move from 46th and Farnam Streets, where it had been for more than a century, to a larger location in Wahoo, where it could expand.

Teggart said he had wanted to stay in Omaha and looked at a handful of sites in the city. But after years of working with the city and the chamber, the company settled on the Wahoo property.

The decision, Teggart said, was based on a nearly $2 million difference in the cost of getting power to the plant and the narrow list of site options for heavy industrial operations considering Omaha.

Teggart told the Wahoo City Council on Thursday night that the company's move to the town was on track.

After the meeting, he said Suttle's statements had caused stress for his employees as well. “I had employees coming up to me asking, 'We're not moving?' ” he said.

OWH Mayor's Guide
For profiles of the candidates, exclusive Q&A's, bios, campaign cash numbers, list of forums, World-Herald stories and more, visit the OWH Mayor's Guide.

Teggart said when he learned about the mayor's remarks, he watched a debate replay and immediately prepared a statement for employees that the company was committed to Wahoo, which is 40 miles west of Omaha.

Cunningham said the mayor asked him to look into the status of the Wahoo construction on Monday or Tuesday.

As far as he knows, he said, that was the extent of the “active” pursuit Suttle mentioned during the debate.

“It was a surprise to me when the mayor mentioned that he heard it hadn't been going well. Because it's been over a year,” Cunningham said.

Suttle's campaign spokeswoman said that the mayor had heard from the chamber in early March that the company might be having problems with the Wahoo site and that Suttle had asked Cunningham at that point to contact the company.

“When the mayor said he was hoping to work with Omaha Steel again, he was under the impression from his planning director that talks were taking place,” Aida Amoura, his spokeswoman, said in an email Friday.

Cunningham confirmed that account.

He said Friday that the mayor had contacted him on March 4, saying that he'd heard the Wahoo deal could be in trouble. Cunningham said the mayor requested that he gather information about the deal Omaha had offered the company, and that he give Teggart a call to check on the situation.

Cunningham said he got busy with other work and never made the call. He didn't try again until after the mayor brought it up again early this week.

"I dropped the ball on calling (Teggart) at that point in time," Cunningham said. "At that point in time, with what we had heard, somebody should have called him. That should have been me, and I didn't call."

Suttle, in a statement Friday, said he didn't intend to interfere with the plant's move.

“I was merely trying to let them know that we valued their business and if they were having problems, they would always be welcomed in Omaha,” Suttle said. “I was led to believe that they were communicating with us, and I'm truly sorry about any misunderstanding. We wish Mr. Teggart and Omaha Steel the best.”

World-Herald staff writers Erin Golden and Juan Perez Jr. and the World-Herald News Service contributed to this report.

Contact the writer:

402-444-3144, matt.wynn@owh.com The mayoral candidates talk about Omaha Steel Castings


Contact the writer: Matt Wynn

matt.wynn@owh.com    |   402-444-3144    |  

Matt does document- and data-driven stories and builds things for the Web that leverage both.

High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
Crack ring's leaders join others in prison as a result of Operation Purple Haze
Omahan charged in fatal shooting in Benson neighborhood
High court denies death row appeal of cult leader convicted of murder
State Department moves to delay Keystone XL pipeline decision
Haze in area comes from Kansas, Oklahoma
Man taken into custody in domestic dispute
Omaha judge reprimanded for intervening in peer attorney's DUI case
Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
Police seek public's help in finding an armed man
Saturday forecast opens window for gardening; Easter egg hunts look iffy on Sunday
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Last day of 2014 Legislature: Praise, passage of a last few bills and more on mountain lions
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
A voice of experience: Ex-gang member helps lead fight against Omaha violence
Church is pressing its case for old Temple Israel site
OPPD board holding public forum, open house May 7
The thrill of the skill: Omaha hosts statewide contest for students of the trades
A recap of what got done — and what didn't — in the 2014 legislative session
When judge asks, Nikko Jenkins says ‘I killed them’
Nancy's Almanac, April 17, 2014: Trees save money
'The war is not over,' Chambers says, but legislative session about is
PAC funded by Senate candidate Ben Sasse's great-uncle releases Shane Osborn attack ad
Teen killed at Gallagher Park was shot in head as he sat in SUV, friend who was wounded says
New UNO center strengthens ties between campus, community
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Breaking Brad: At least my kid never got stuck inside a claw machine
We need a new rule in Lincoln. If your kid is discovered inside the claw machine at a bowling alley, you are forever barred from being nominated for "Mother of the Year."
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Kelly: Creighton's McDermotts put good faces on an Omaha tradition
A comical roast Wednesday night in Omaha brought fans of Creighton basketball laughter by the bucketful. This time it was McJokes, not McBuckets, that entertained the Bluejay crowd.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »