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BRS


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This schematic drawing depicts the Big River Steel mill, a $1.3 billion project on approximately 1,300 acres in Osceola. The first flat- rolled flex mill will have a production capacity of 1.6 million tons when completed next year.


the 2014-2015 period were better than they have been in several years. In addition, he said, revenue from the city sales tax has increased. Clif Chitwood, executive director of the Great River Eco- nomic Development Foundation, a group with governmen- tal and private support charged with attracting business to Mississippi County, pointed to other indicators that the area economy already is improving. “Sales taxes in the county are up from 30 to 35 percent,” Chitwood said. “Houses are starting to sell. Tat evidence is more anecdotal, but it’s noticeable. I’ll hear ‘two houses sold in Osceola; two houses sold in Blytheville; a house sold in Manila.’” Wilson has a new housing subdivision, the first that’s been built in the county in 15 years, Chitwood said. “Some of the new businesses that support a new plant are only now starting to break ground. SMS Siemag AG [the Dusseldorf, Germany-based maker of all of Big River Steel’s manufacturing equipment] just purchased a building near the plant that will make a good regional center for them to serve BRS and the other steel mills they serve in the area,” Chitwood said. Other support businesses related to the steel mill’s opening


are in the works, including Tenaris, Ipsco and Atlas, he said, noting that all of the related growth that Big River Steel had indicated would follow its plant construction has materialized. “Te change in morale out in the community [since con- struction on the mill started] has been huge,” Chitwood said.


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“And, in considering that, I’m thinking a lot about John Correnti and his life. I think he has had the biggest effect on the growth of this county of anyone since R.E.O. Wilson. In the long run, people will look at what Correnti did for this community that way.” Correnti was not alone in impacting the local community; area leaders also took steps to ensure economic growth.


of new businesses.


“GREDA identified our strengths, which are the Missis- sippi River, I-55, Burlington Northern Railroad, available high-voltage electricity, and large tracts of land adjacent to or near these other assets. Our strengths are attractive to heavy manufacturing,” Mayor Kennemore said. In addition, the county passed a half-cent sales tax for


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job creation. With money for promoting and two “super sites,” Mississippi County went on the hunt for a super project. John Correnti, who lived in the county, tried to bring a plant there with an earlier company. Others visited and considered the area for their plants, Kennemore said, but politics and the lack of support in previous administrations stymied each effort. Years passed.


COUNTY LINES, FALL 2015


ndeed, area leaders were hardly passive as they watched manufacturing facilities shutter their doors. Tey formed the Great River Economic Development Asso- ciation and set out to prove Mississippi County worthy


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