The future was bleak.
It was 2009. The auto industry was in tatters and demand for steel was weak.
In Cleveland, Ohio, less than five miles from downtown, employees at ArcelorMittal's (IW 1000/43) sprawling steel factory didn't know what tomorrow would hold.
For months that year, the plant was shut down, its two blast furnaces silent as the Luxembourg-based company slashed its worldwide steel production in half in response to flat lining demand.
Now, four years later, that same plant is ArcelorMittal's most productive site in the U.S. and one of the most productive steelmaking facilities in the world, capable of annually producing about 3.8 million tons of raw steel.
On Nov. 14, President Barack Obama heralded the plant as a "remarkable" example of the resiliency of American manufacturing during a visit to the facility.
In front of an audience of steelworkers, an American flag strung from a yellow crane at his back, Obama recounted the struggles of the plant.
"About 1,200 steelworkers punched out for what might have been the last time. And that already came at the end of a decade when the middle class was already working harder and harder just to get by and one in three American manufacturing jobs had vanished, a lot of them going overseas. And that could have really devastated this community for good. But we rolled up our sleeves we made some tough choices we rescued and retooled the American auto industry. It saved more than a million jobs," he said.