In a press conference held at the Governor’s Conference Room, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe has announced that Big River Steel LLC has announced plans to build a $1 billion steel mill in Mississippi County, Ark. The project is contingent on approval by the Arkansas legislature authorizing the state to issue $125 million in general obligation bonds under the authority of Amendment 82 and all necessary regulatory approvals.
Big River Steel is backed by John Correnti, a long-time steel company executive, as well as a group of investors.
Beebe will refer the project to the legislature for its consideration.
This is the first time Amendment 82 has been triggered since its adoption during the November 2004 general election. It allows the state legislature to approve up to 5 percent of the state’s general revenue budget to be used for bonding of super economic development projects.
When operational, Big River Steel LLC will produce steel for the automotive, oil and gas and electrical energy industries. Construction of the mill will take approximately 20 months from ground breaking, which is expected later this year.
In a news release issued by the Governor's Office, Correnti says, “Having lived in Arkansas for over 20 years and having been involved in building and operating two other world class steel mills in the state, I know first-hand that the quality of the work force in Arkansas is outstanding and well suited for the high-paying jobs we intend to create.”
“Arkansas’s geographic location in the heart of the markets we intend to serve, the state’s well-developed transportation infrastructure as well as the availability of reliable electrical power and the ‘can do attitude’ of the government officials in Little Rock, Mississippi County and Osceola make Arkansas a great place for Big River Steel to make its investment,” Correnti adds.
Correnti has been an executive with a number of steel companies, including Nucor Steel, SeverCorr and Birmingham Steel. He also has been involved in a number of steel mill projects that were proposed but never built.
“The Big River Steel project will change the demographics of Mississippi County and Osceola in particular, now, and for generations to come,” says Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore. “It will continue to improve our economy and will positively impact all our citizens and every aspect of their lives, and every entity in our community.”
The $125 million generated by the sale of the bonds will be used as follows:
- $50 million in the form of a loan to Big River Steel;
- $50 million for site preparation;
- $20 million for costs associated with piling – subsurface stabilization; and
- $5 million bond issuance cost.
Once Beebe refers the project to the speaker of the house and president pro tempore of the Arkansas Senate, the legislature will have 20 working days to conduct its own independent economic impact study. The legislation will then work its way through the committee process after which a vote of both houses of the legislature will be taken.
Parties involved in the project include the Governor’s Office, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, Arkansas Development Finance Authority, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Attorney General’s Office, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Arkansas Capital Corp. and its affiliates, Mississippi County Economic Development, the city of Osceola, Entergy Arkansas Inc. and BNSF Railway.