Ark. gov. announces $1.1 billion steel mill plan

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 29, 2013 at 6:15 pm •  Published: January 29, 2013
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"Arkansas' 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," Big River Steel CEO John Correnti said in a statement.

As part of the incentive program, state officials will pay to stabilize the loose, fine soil beneath the plant.

Correnti, a former Nucor executive, has had success developing steel operations in the past, including the construction of a $650 million Severstal steel mill that opened in 2007 in Lowndes County, Miss. But some of his other recent projects have failed — a steel rebar facility in Mississippi and silicon projects in Ohio and North Carolina.

Tennille, the economic development director, said that his team looked at those previous ventures but are confident that the Arkansas project will succeed.

"When you're dealing with somebody who does as many deals as he has, there will always be things that are bigger successes than others," Tennille said. "We really feel that in terms of building steel mills there is nobody better than John Correnti."

Legislative leaders said Tuesday that they looked forward to reviewing the project.

Senate President Michael Lamoureux said the Legislature will likely hire an outside consultant.

"It's a major state investment, so it's just doing the proper amount of due diligence and making sure it's a good value," he said. "You're essentially giving state money or using the state to loan money to a private entity, so you have to make sure that's a good value there."

House Speaker Davy Carter said that he was excited about the long-term possibilities the deal presents, but reserved judgment on the bond offering until he has more information.

"This is inning 2 of a nine-inning baseball game and the House and Senate has a lot of work to do in a short period of time," he said. "We're going to go through the process and do our homework."

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Associated Press writer Jack Elliott in Jackson, Miss., contributed to this report.