State Economic Dev. Director Says Big River Steel Isn't Without Risk

Apr 3, 2013

An Arkansas House Committee passed a proposal Wednesday to offer $125 million to a steel company to locate in the state.

The House Agriculture and Economic Development Commission advanced on a voice vote a bill that would give the state the authority to use state money for economic development to provide infrastructure, training and tax credits for Big River Steel, which would be located in Osceola.

State Economic Development Director Grant Tennille told lawmakers the plan isn’t without risk, but whether it fails or not, would be an economic benefit to the state.

"We have done our best to understand exactly where the risk is and to mitigate it as best we can," said Tenille.

Sam Comella of Nucor Steel, which is already located in Mississippi County, said state involvement in the Big River project would drive down prices and cost existing steel jobs.

"Winning this competition will not happen without high senseless cost could both Nucor big river steel and the taxpayers of Arkansas," said Comella.

Proponents insist the steel mill is a good opportunity for the state.

The bill now heads to the House where it will need a simple majority to pass. 

Additional bills to appropriate money needed for the project will take a 75 percent majority.