Big River Steel reaching out to small business owners in Region 8

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Governor's Office hosted a workshop Wednesday afternoon for business owners interested in doing business with Big River Steel.

More than 300 people attended the three-hour event in Blytheville at the Briggs/Sebaugh Wellness Center at Arkansas Northeastern College.

Big River Steel representatives discussed the types of contracting and services that will be needed when construction and hiring begins for the project.

The workshop targeted women, minority, and small business owners like Linda Ramsey Moore, who owns Dawson Employment Service in Blytheville. Moore's five-member staff works to find temporary employment for people in Mississippi County.

"They did say it's going to be a 20-month project and that contractors like myself and others would be done through a bid process," she said. "We have a lot of people that are in need of employment and we would definitely like to see a lot of the people in our area within the steel mill."

David Stickler, a member of the Big River Steel Board of Directors, says small business owners were the focus of the workshop because those owners are hesitant in trying to partner with companies such as Big River Steel.

"We want to encourage small businesses to get in on the ground floor with Big River. The ones that perform well will have an opportunity to grow with us," he said. "To build a $1.1 billion industrial facility, we need everything from site security, to land grating, land clearing, steel erection work, administrative assistant work. We certainly have a need for cafeteria work."

In January 2013, Big River announced plans to build a $1 billion steel mill in Osceola that will directly employ more than 500 people with an average compensation of $75,000 a year.  The company plans to produce steel for the automotive, oil and gas, and electrical energy industries. Construction of the mill will take approximately two years.

Call the Arkansas Economic Development Commission at 1-800-ARKANSAS or e-mail for more information about partnering with Big River Steel.

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