Clinton Connected With Correnti To Lobby for Big River Steel Plant

John Correnti, the man behind Big River Steel and this week’s Executive Q&A, thought he was being pranked when former President Bill Clinton called to lobby Correnti to put his $1 billion-plus steel mill in Arkansas.

The two met in the mid-1980s when Correnti came to Arkansas with plans to build the Nucor Corp. mill that eventually wound up in Blytheville. He and the then-governor got on well together, Correnti said, and stayed friendly through Clinton’s White House years.

“I hadn’t talked to him since he got out of office. And my phone rang. ... I’m in Toronto ... at the airport at this conference room. And I can’t remember whether the phone said ‘blocked’ or ‘unknown.’ And I says, ‘Hello?’ And they say, ‘Is this John Correnti?’ and I say, ‘Yes.’ And they say, ‘Can you please hold for President Clinton?’ I didn’t believe it.

“And he said, ‘Hey, Correnti. You’re going to do it again.’ And I say, ‘How did you get this number?’ He says, ‘Arkansas Industrial Commission. I’m just lobbying you for Arkansas. Hey, I hope you come to Arkansas.’”

“I’m not ashamed to tell you,” Correnti told us, “I voted for him twice.”