Local & Regional News
4:37 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Proposed Steel Mill Would Create 525 Jobs in East Arkansas

Listen to the report by KUAR's Michael Hibblen.
John Correnti, CEO of the proposed Big River Steel mill, speaks alongside Governor Mike Beebe and other state officials at the Capitol.
Credit Michael Hibblen

A major new employer will be coming to east Arkansas IF the legislature approves start-up funding for the project.

Governor Mike Beebe announced Tuesday that a much talked about super-project involves a steel mill in Osceola.

"It is a $1.1 billion investment.  It is 525 direct, immediate jobs with an average salary of $75,000 a piece," Gov. Beebe said to applause in a packed conference room at the Capitol.

About 2,000 temporary construction jobs would also be created as the mill is being built.

John Correnti, the CEO of Big River Steel, says the location is perfect for getting its products to market, being in the center of the nation, with the Mississippi River on one side of where the plant will go and a Burlington Northern rail connection on the other

The plant would produce steel for automobiles and products used by the energy industry.

Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore says it would provide an incredible boost for the region.

"It is an event that’s going to bring a struggling Delta county out of the doldrums and it allows hard working people like John referred to, these guys who come off the farms, they’ll be able to educate their kids, send their kids to college, feed their kids and have a quality of life and self esteem that they’ve never had before," Kennemore said.

But to make it happen, the Legislature will need to approve the state issuing $125 million in bonds.  Plans are also contingent on the steel mill getting regulatory approval.