LITTLE ROCK – State House and Senate leaders on Thursday came out in support of a $125 million financing package that’s been proposed to help build a steel mill in northeast Arkansas, saying the benefits of the project outweigh any risks to the state.
House Speaker Davy Carter told reporters he supports the legislation intended to lure the proposed $1.1 billion Big River Steel mill to Osceola. Carter, R-Cabot, said he’ll sign on as a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“It’s easy to forget that that part of the state for 100 years paid the bills around the state and it’s on hard times now. I think we’ve got an opportunity here to try and inject some life in the area,” Carter said. “So I hope to see the project approved.”
House and Senate committees plan next week to take up the legislation for the mill that is expected to employ 525 people. Of the $125 million in bonds that Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe wants to issue to help finance the project, $50 million would be a loan to the company while the remaining amount would be paid off by taxpayers.
Big River Steel is led by John Correnti, a former Nucor Steel executive who engineered the 2007 launch of a successful $650 million steel mill at Columbus, Miss.
Senate President Michael Lamoureux said later that he also plans to support the financing for the project.
“I think the chance of success of the project can mean a lot to the state, and the members from that part of the state really want it for their community,” said Lamoureux, R-Russellville. “And I think the potential benefits outweigh the potential harms.”
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