It’s been a great year for Gerdau’s Jackson Mill. The industrial recycler and steel maker broke ground on an expansion that will increase revenue, employees and the amount it can recycle.

Jackson MillGerdau’s employees also led a project to develop a new “multi-grade” product that earned the company the American Metals Market 2015 Award for Product Innovation.

In December, the Jackson Gerdau Mill and its 350 employees celebrated two and a half years without a lost time accident as itand has surpassed 1.75 million hours without a day lost due to a work-related injury.

Perhaps the most exciting development over the last 12 months, though, occurred last week in front of a packed room of Jackson civic leaders, businessmen and women and community volunteers at Union University’s Carl Grant Events Center. The Jackson Chamber awarded Gerdau’s Jackson Mill its Industry of the Year Award for 2015 during the chamber’s Annual Celebration luncheon.

The award, judged by people outside of the Jackson community, was based on several criteria, including community service, growth, customer service and strategic planning.

Plant officials and employees beamed as Ricardo Anawate, vice president and general manager of the local mill, stepped onto the podium to accept the award.

“It’s an honor to be chosen as the recipient of the Industry of the Year award,” Anawate said after the event was over. “2015 was an incredible year for Gerdau’s Jackson Mill. We started the expansion of the non-ferrous scrap separation system, we had positive performance and continue to foster our relationship with the community.”

Then he emphasized the main reason why the Jackson Mill won the award. “Our employees contributed to every category considered, and they, along with our community, are the reasons why we continue to thrive in Jackson, Tennessee.”

Bill Kipp, people manager of the local mill, added to Anawate’s statement. “Receiving this award most impacts our employees,” he said. “This award is recognition for all the hard work they do, and none of this would have been possible without their motivation and engagement.”

“One of Gerdau’s strongest company values is social responsibility and investing in the communities in which we operate,” Kipp said. “In 2014 aloneDuring 2014-2015, the Jackson Mill and its employees provided more than $965,000 in financial and in-kind support to 40 different local charitable, community and educational organizations.”

The Jackson Mill also participates with a consortium of local employers who have partnered with Jackson State Community College to provide co-op opportunities to the students enrolled in the newly created Advanced Maintenance Technician Co-Op Program.

The mill, located off U.S. 45 in north Madison County, melts and re-manufactures recycled steel that it obtains from vehicles and other sources that are no longer usable. The quality steel is then used in a variety of ways, including major commercial buildings, freeways, bridges, parking garages and other concrete structures throughout the world.

The expansion, which will add about 30 employees, upgrades the mill’s non-ferrous scrap separation process and will allow it to extract and recycle metals like aluminum, copper and stainless steel rather than placing them in its on-site landfill.

Already, the Jackson Mill receives and recycles more than one billion pounds of scrap metal each year.

“We appreciate the support we have received from the chamber and other organizations in our local community,” Kipp Anawate said. “We look forward to continuing to make a positive impact in Jackson for many years to come.”