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STORY


COVER


urring growth Big River Steel presence.


“W


e’ve been told to expect that the number of permanent jobs should rise from 525 to 1,100 after Phase II [of the steel mill]


is completed, so that has to have an enormous positive effect in our county. Our tax base will raise by 17 percent after the permanent jobs are filled.


County Judge Randy Carney Mississippi County





grated steel mills located near Detroit and Chicago.” Te width of the hot band black steel manufactured in the


new plant will range from 36 inches to 78 inches. Te products to be manufactured by the 550 mill employ- ees after the plant opens will range from lightweight advanced high-strength steels to the complex electrical steels, energy pipe grades and coiled plate dimensions required by the world’s newer products, according to the Big River Steel web site. Initial production capacity is expected to be between 1.5 million and 1.6 million tons per year. Eventually, company officials say, a three-phase expansion will bring employment at the plant up to 800 workers and production to 3 million tons annually.


as major crops — it has evolved into a manufacturing base. Eight steel-related industries have located in the county in recent years due in large part to its transportation system — a combination of river (Mississippi River), rail line (BNSF) and interstate highway (Interstate 55). But some of those indus- tries — and others — have scaled back production. “Our biggest hit was the loss of the Fruit of the Loom plant and a car parts manufacturer, which, between the two, [meant] we lost about 2,500 jobs, plus another 1,000 or so with the loss of other smaller plants,” said Osceola Mayor


M


ississippi County once was the world’s largest producer of rain-grown cotton. And though it is still known for its agricultural produc- tion — with cotton, soybeans, rice and corn


Dickie Kennemore. “For a period of time we were in a area depression, while the rest of the nation prospered. However, that has changed since the state landed its first


“super project.” “Obviously, we expect growth for the city, county and


northeast Arkansas,” said Mayor Kennemore. “Our unem- ployment will be reduced and growth will occur, as families move in to take advantage of the these jobs. Te steel mill is projected to start with 500 jobs and grow to 850 jobs, but that is only the [beginning] of bigger things to come. Te support industries and down-stream users are projected to bring in up to another 2,500 jobs over the next several years. In fact, these jobs have already started to come to the area. With all this eco- nomic activity, we will see an increase in sales tax, property tax and commercial-type business expansions.” Judge Carney said the 500 or so plant construction jobs


have had a positive effect on the community’s outlook. “Attracting BRS has been a positive morale boost, in that being able to attract a super project of this magnitude makes us realize that we can attract any major industrial project,” he said. “We expect the subsidiary growth to be an additional possibly three or four smaller industries, with employment figures reaching between 50 and 150 per company. With 525 permanent jobs and Phase II of this project already being planned, the growth projection for the City [of Osceola] and [Mississippi] County will be most positive.” According to Mayor Kennemore, real estate sales during


See “BRS” on Page 30 >>>


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