LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Big River Steel, LLC announced plans to build a more than $1 billion steel mill in Mississippi County, Ark.
It may not look like much now, but the rich delta soil may be getting richer according to Governor Mike Beebe.
"This is going to be a steel mill located in Osceola, Arkansas. Which incidentally, along with the other steel mills that exist in Mississippi County, makes it the second largest steel producing county in America," Beebe said.
Osceola resident Lafonce Latham said the region has seen much economic decline over the years, but now it provides a promising future.
"Osceola is a town that never gives up. Our Mayor works hard for the city, and I just feel like this is just an encouragement and a boost for Osceola," he said.
Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore said the proposed project could have a major impact on his city.
"It allows hard working people like John referred to. These guys that 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 a self-esteem they've never had before," explained Kennemore.
The plan does come with a contingency.
Governor Beebe will need the Arkansas State Legislature's approval in order to secure $125 million in startup costs, and he's confident state leaders will see his vision.
"I expect there will be people who thought they had to move to Dallas or Los Angeles or somewhere to get a high paying job in a manufacturing sector that won't have to do that anymore," he added.
The steel manufacturer would bring 525 new jobs to Mississippi County with average salaries topping more than $75,000 a year.
Chairman and CEO of Big River Steel John Correnti said the proposed site is steel mill heaven.
"On the east side of the property you've got big muddy, big river, The Mississippi River. One the west side of the property you've got the BN Railroad, class one railroad," he said. "Take our product all over the country and bring our scrap metal from all over our country."
This is an economic development project that resident Paula Edwards said will help their community build on the progress they've already made.
"It has gotten so much better. You know our mayor has done a great job, our city council. You know, it's really gotten a lot better. I see us moving up," she said.
If lawmakers approved the project after running their own economic impact study, investors said they will likely break ground as early as August.
All employment inquiries should be made to:
Blytheville Office of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services
P.O. Box 1409
Blytheville, AR 72316