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Governor Hutchinson's weekly radio address can be found in MP3 format and downloaded HERE.
LITTLE ROCK – This week, we announced an economic development win for Arkansas that is the largest single project investment in state history. Today, I’d like to share some details about the new U.S. Steel plant, which eventually will create more than 900 high-paying jobs and will make Mississippi County the Number 1 steel-producing county in the nation.
The competition for the mill was intense, but we won because of our workforce, our business-friendly environment, our abundant, renewable, and clean power, superior Class 1 rail service, and easy access to Mississippi River docks and interstate trucking.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Mississippi County’s economic development team, prepared a first-rate package for U.S. Steel. The 93rd General Assembly supported the effort with legislation that offers an income-tax credit to steel manufacturers that invest in equipment to reduce waste, and reuse or recycle materials. U.S. Steel plans to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The process moved quickly, and our nimble economic development team had the savvy and the resources to keep pace. U.S. Steel announced in September last year that it was looking for a place to build a state-of-the-art mini-mill. Only three months later, the company announced it would build in Arkansas.
U.S. Steel will invest more than $3 billion to build its plant in Osceola next to the Big River Steel. The company hopes to break ground by spring and to be fully operational by 2024. That is moving very quickly for a $3 billion project.
This effort highlights the need to be able to act quickly and is built on the foundation laid by previous Arkansas governors. When Bill Clinton was governor, he helped recruit Nucor Steel to Mississippi County. And under former Governor Mike Beebe, voters approved Amendment 82, which allowed the state to offer incentives to attract industry. U.S. Steel now owns Big River Steel. And now, I was able to make the case for Arkansas in my meetings with the CEO of U.S. Steel, Dave Burritt.
I can’t overstate the importance of this plant to Mississippi County’s economy and its residents. In the ’90s, Mississippi County lost more than 9,000 jobs in a short period of time. This mill will add back more than 900 to the nearly 5,000 jobs that have returned. The average salary will be more than $100,000.
The plant will produce the high-end steel used to build cars and appliances, and the economic development commission can build on this success by recruiting even more industry, such as automakers.
The benefits of this steel mill extend beyond the economy and will improve the quality of life in Northeast Arkansas in intangible ways we haven’t imagined. As Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said, with the expansion of our steel industry, the sky’s the limit.
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