A new company led by David Stickler, the former CEO of Big River Steel, has announced plans to build a $500 million rebar steel mini mill in northeast Arkansas.
Highbar LLC said the mill, which will be located on a 600-acre site in the Osceola area, is one of two it has in the works. The mill is expected to create 200 direct and indirect jobs, with the direct positions paying an average of $140,000 per year.
Construction is set to begin in the second quarter of 2023 and last 22 months. Peak construction employment should top 600 jobs, Highbar said in a news release.
Highbar said that in addition to steel production, its focus will be on sustainable scrap metal recycling. Plans call for a Mississippi River port facility, a direct railroad connection and an adjacent solar installation.
The project is the latest for Stickler's Global Principal Partners LLC, the metals and mining investment firm that brought Big River Steel to Mississippi County. Stickler left Big River Steel in July 2021 after it was acquired by U.S. Steel.
Stickler said northeast Arkansas was chosen for the Highbar mill after a multi-state search for a site. A news release cited Mississippi County's central location in the U.S. and access to truck, rail and barge transportation.
Highbar already has long-term agreements in place for more than 20% of its output, according to the release.
The project qualified for the following state incentives: the Tax Back program, which provides sales and use tax refunds on the purchase of building materials and taxable machinery; 10 years of the Create Rebate program, an annual cash rebate based on the number of jobs added by a company and targeted wages; and the Recycling Tax Credit, which allows an income tax credit for the purchase of equipment used exclusively for reduction, reuse or recycling of solid waste material for commercial purposes and the cost of installation of such equipment by outside contractors.
"The addition of Highbar's first rebar mill in Arkansas will not only support the growing steel industry in northeast Arkansas, but it will further diversify our economy and provide hundreds of high-wage jobs to deserving families," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement. "I'm excited about the opportunities this significant investment will bring to the region."