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Above: Pictured is Big River Steel’s main substation with hubs and trans- formers installed.

Far Right: This is an example of the type of laser welding machine that will be part of the steel mill and recylcing fa- cility in Osceola.

Right: Mississippi County Judge Randy Carney said the 500 or so construction jobs already created by the plant have boosted morale in the community.

Ten Gov. Mike Beebe came into office, and the state legis-

lature proposed revisions to Amendment 82 that would relax some of the thresholds put into place by voters in 2004. Te measure allowed the state to issue $125 million in general ob- ligation bonds in support of the Big River Steel project. Tat legislation also allowed the state Legislature to approve up to 5 percent of the state’s general revenue budget to be used for bonding of large-scale economic development projects. Political support for the “super project” had changed — and just in time. “John Correnti had sold his facility in Mississippi [with

a previous company] and he and others wanted to build a new steel mill,” Mayor Kennemore explained. “He was already familiar with our site. He called me on an early Saturday morning in the fall of 2012 [and] said, ‘Let’s go look at your site again.’” Both Mayor Kennemore and Judge Carney say it took the joint effort of the Beebe administration, the state legislature, county and city officials, GREDA and others to land the Big River Steel project. However, Judge Carney also gives much credit to Correnti. Tree things were key, Carney wrote in an e-mail: “(1) Infrastructure (Railroad, the River and Interstate); (2)

John Correnti’s familiarity with Mississippi County and the good work ethic of the workforce in the county; and (3) Our county invested $14.5 million in the project, coming from Economic Development funds.”


Bula, the BRS chief commercial officer, said that while the loss of Correnti was difficult to his co-workers on a personal level, the CEO’s death never endangered the project. “Big River Steel, like all companies of its size, has contin- gency plans in place for unforeseen events,” Bula said. “Al- though one never hopes to have to implement the plans, Big River Steel took steps following John’s passing that allows the company to continue on its path of building a growth- focused company. Dave [Stickler] and John had worked together for over 15 years and over the past few years devel- oping the Big River Steel project. Dave held the position of chief administrative officer prior to John’s passing and he was and is a member of the board of directors and a significant investor in the company.” Bula added that Sticker had moved to Osceola over a year ago, demonstrating his dedication toward the success of the community. “Dave and his wife, Rebecca, will continue to be active in the local community,” Bula said.

* Nucor Steel, once headed by Correnti, has two mills near

Blytheville. It filed a lawsuit in Arkansas district court, opposing the Big River Steel project on environmental grounds, but that was dis- missed. Te company refiled the suit in federal court, where on Dec. 9, 2015, the court affirmed the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission’s decision to grant a permit for Big River Steel.


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