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Motherwell was noted as the steel production capital of Scotland, nicknamed Steelopolis, with its skyline dominated by the water tower and three cooling towers of the Ravenscraig steelworks which closed in 1992. The Ravenscraig plant had one of the longest continuous casting, hot rolling, steel production facilities in the world before it was decommissioned. The closure of Ravenscraig signalled the end of large scale steel making in Scotland, although the town's Dalzell works continues to be operated by Corus. In the past decade, Motherwell has to an extent recovered from the high unemployment and economic decline brought about by this collapse of heavy industry. A number of call centres and business parks such as Strathclyde Business Park have since set up in the region. Large employers include William Grant & Sons whisky distillers and blenders.
Motherwell is the headquarters for both North Lanarkshire Council, which is one of Scotland's most populous local authority areas, and of Strathclyde Police "N" division. These organisations cover an overall population of 327,000 people (59,000 in Motherwell and Wishaw) throughout the 183 square miles (470 km2) of North Lanarkshire.