The Mississippi County judge says he expects construction to begin by mid-June on a $1.1 billion steel mill near Osceola.
An administrative law judge last week cleared a hurdle for the plant, and County Judge Randy Carney told the Jonesboro Sun on Sunday that he expects hiring to begin in May.
Big River Steel plans to hire up to 600 people for the plant, though about 2,000 workers will be used during construction.
Neighboring Nucor Steel had challenged pollution-control permits for the proposed mill, saying they didn't meet state or federal standards. An administrative law judge rejected the challenge last Thursday.
Arkansas anti-pollution board has a meeting Friday but a spokeswoman said Monday the matter is not on its agenda.
Nucor has said it woud appeal an adverse decision.