Arkansas House passes proposal to finance steel mill - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Arkansas House passes proposal to finance steel mill

Posted: Updated: April 9, 2013 11:18 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ar., (KNOE 8 News) - Arkansas House lawmakers this week have overwhelmingly approved Gov. Mike Beebe's proposal to provide $125 million in state financing for the construction of a steel mill in the northeast corner of the state.

Lawmakers passed a Senate-backed bill authorizing Arkansas to issue bonds to provide a loan and pay some construction costs of a $1.1 billion steel facility in Osceola.

The legislation now heads to the governor's desk, but a supermajority of 75 House lawmakers will still have to sign off on a budget bill before the state can issue the bonds. House Speaker Davy Carter has said he expects a vote on the funding measure will happen later this week.

The House on Monday voted 71-11 in favor of the project and approved identical legislation on a 78-17 vote.

Big River Steel has promised to create at least 525 permanent jobs with an average wage of $75,000 in exchange for $125 million in state financing and other tax breaks. If the project is approved, the company has said it expects to close the deal in the third quarter of this year.

Proponents of the plan said the steel mill will be a boon for a depressed area of the state and Arkansas' economy in general.

Rep. Monte Hodges, D-Blytheville, the House sponsor of the bill, told lawmakers on Monday that they had "a rare opportunity" to bring such a large project to Arkansas.

But some conservatives mounted opposition to the project, taking issue with the size of the incentive package and with having the government help fund a new private company. Big River Steel is being led by a former Nucor executive John Correnti.

Seventeen Republicans, including the House GOP leader, voted against the project Friday.

Rep. Stephen Meeks, R-Greenbrier, told lawmakers that he did not want to provide financing for a fledgling company that does not have a built-in customer base. He said he was concerned about the risk that the company would not perform as expected in a recovering economy.

"If the steel mill turns out to be good for Arkansas, I'll be glad to be on the wrong side of this," he said. "With the economy, if it takes a double-dip, it could end up being a money pit for this state."

Koch Industries is a major investor in the project, investing $120 million to become a 40 percent stakeholder, according to George Hopkins, executive director of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, which is itself planning to be a 20 percent investor in Big River Steel.

Nucor Steel, which operates two steel plants near Blytheville, also lobbied against the project. They said that adding another steel mill in northeast Arkansas would negatively impact their business and could force them to scale back their Arkansas workforce.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • West Monroe man arrested for meth possession

    West Monroe man arrested for meth possession

    Sunday, July 27 2014 9:09 PM EDT2014-07-28 01:09:38 GMT
    WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - West Monroe Police arrested a man early Sunday morning for possession of drugs.
    WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - West Monroe Police arrested a man early Sunday morning for possession of drugs.
  • Retired deputy drowns trying to save terrier

    Retired deputy drowns trying to save terrier

    Sunday, July 27 2014 8:43 PM EDT2014-07-28 00:43:53 GMT
    Ret. Lt. Sam Vitter (Source: APSO)Ret. Lt. Sam Vitter (Source: APSO)
    PRAIRIEVILLE, La. (AP) - The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office says a recently retired deputy has drowned trying to rescue his Yorkshire terrier.
    PRAIRIEVILLE, La. (AP) - The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office says a recently retired deputy has drowned trying to rescue his Yorkshire terrier.
  • MPD investigate Friday night rape report

    MPD investigate Friday night rape report

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:05 PM EDT2014-07-26 22:05:59 GMT
    MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Monroe Police are investigating a reported rape from Friday night.
    MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Monroe Police are investigating a reported rape from Friday night.
  • Areas of West Monroe test positive for West Nile

    Areas of West Monroe test positive for West Nile

    Friday, July 25 2014 4:31 PM EDT2014-07-25 20:31:42 GMT
    OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE 8 News OPMAD) - Three mosquito pools, representing three locations, have tested positive for West Nile virus in Ouachita Parish.
    OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE 8 News OPMAD) - Three mosquito pools, representing three locations, have tested positive for West Nile virus in Ouachita Parish.
  • Group protests illegal immigration in Monroe

    Group protests illegal immigration in Monroe

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:29 PM EDT2014-07-26 22:29:54 GMT
    MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - On Saturday, a small group took to the streets of the Twin Cities, to protest illegal immigration. They call themselves, Three Percenters. They say they are dedicated to action, education and reform of government, they believe has gotten too large to effectively operate. 
    MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - On Saturday, a small group took to the streets of the Twin Cities, to protest illegal immigration. They call themselves, Three Percenters. They say they are dedicated to action, education and reform of government, they believe has gotten too large to effectively operate. 
  • Clerk wrestles gun away from armed robbery suspect

    Clerk wrestles gun away from armed robbery suspect

    Saturday, July 26 2014 4:40 PM EDT2014-07-26 20:40:24 GMT
    MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Police are investigating an attempted armed robbery where a clerk fought a gun away from a suspect.
    MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Police are investigating an attempted armed robbery where a clerk fought a gun away from a suspect.
  • Juvenile shot after leaving party in South Monroe

    Juvenile shot after leaving party in South Monroe

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:19 PM EDT2014-07-26 22:19:25 GMT
    MONROE, La.(KNOE 8 News) - Police are investigating a shooting from South Monroe early Saturday morning.
    MONROE, La.(KNOE 8 News) - Police are investigating a shooting from South Monroe early Saturday morning.
  • California lightning hits 14; 2 critically injured

    California lightning hits 14; 2 critically injured

    Sunday, July 27 2014 9:33 PM EDT2014-07-28 01:33:11 GMT
    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Thunderstorms are quite rare in Southern California, but people living in Southern California got a stark reminder today of how ferocious they can be.
    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Thunderstorms are quite rare in Southern California, but people living in Southern California got a stark reminder today of how ferocious they can be.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KNOE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.