SINTON, Texas — San Patricio County commissioners took the first step Monday in clearing the way for a new $1.8 billion steel mill to be built just outside Sinton, Texas.

If all goes the way they hope it will -- and that's still a big "if" at this point -- it could mean 500-600 new jobs for Sinton and San Patricio County.

Commissioners approved a reinvestment zone for a piece of property outside Sinton that could be the site for a new steel mill. Steel Dynamics, based in Fort Wayne, Ind., are considering the site for a new state-of-the-art electric arc furnace flat roll steel mill.

Iain Vasey of the Regional Economic Development Corporation, who helped make a presentation to San Patricio County commissioners on Monday, said this translates to hundreds of jobs and no pollution concerns.

"It's not like something out of the 1920's in Pittsburgh with smokestacks and things like that," Vasey said. "This is an electric arc furnace. It's essentially a big electric oven. They bring in scrap steel and then they take hot briquet iron, which is made down the road by Voestalpine, and then they basically role steel."

The site being considered consists of 250 acres just a few miles outside Sinton where Highway 77 and 89 meet. The 500-600 jobs the steel plant could bring to the area could have an average salary of $70,000-$80,000 a year, and most of the positions would involve on-the-job training.

Sinton officials said it would mean a lot for the community.

"It's a tremendous opportunity that will have positive impacts on residents and lives in this community for generations to come," Sinton City Manager John Hobson said.

The next step for county commissioners will be to consider standard tax abatements for the property and if all goes well, start a two-year permitting process. Officials said it may take one-three years to complete construction of the new plant.