"They didn't go into this with a sufficient understanding and resources to meet the challenge, and they failed," he said.
Locker said he hears that more than one potential buyer is "actively looking" at Sparrows Point with an eye to bidding on it. But any buyer will have to woo the mill's customers back, he said.
"They haven't had any stability and reliability and predictability in terms of product," he said. "No. 1 concern for a manufacturer is delivery."
Edward Fangman, chief of the division of workforce development in the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development, suspects workers will wait to see whether a buyer comes through before jumping into the job search. But he hopes they don't wait.
"It puts you so far behind the curve," he said. "And we need, obviously, to get these folks as much help as we can, as soon as we can."
Baltimore Sun reporter Eileen Ambrose contributed to this article.