OSCEOLA, AR (KAIT) - It was a big day for the city of Osceola and Mississippi County. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe was among hundreds of guests who attended the groundbreaking of the Big River Steel Mill in Osceola.
Construction of the $1.3 billion project will last two years and is expected to employ over 500 workers. The new mill will be located on 1,400 acres off state highway 198.
"It will change the demographics, the economy, it will change the lives of thousands of people for generations to come," said Osceola mayor, Dickie Kennemore.
Kennemore spoke at Monday's groundbreaking ceremony. He said this project allows them to bring more jobs to Mississippi County. The Big River project received $125 million in state bonds and $14.5 million from Mississippi County's economic development sales tax.
"I cant expressed how thrilled I am that Big River Steel is coming to our small community. I mean there are communities all over the state that would die for something like this," Kennemore said.
Construction on the new mill will continue despite efforts from competing company, Nucor Steel. Nucor filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the company of violating the Clean Air Act.
The new mill will be the newest and most technically-advanced electric-arc furnace and compact strip production facility in the world. The facility will produce a full range of steels used in the automotive industry, electrical power industry and energy industry. The mill's location allows the company to access a majority of steel consumers.
"It's a huge boost for part of the state that in the last 20 or 30 years had lost a significant amount of population and a significant number of jobs," said Gov. Mike Beebe. He said this new project symbolizes the rebuilding of manufacturing in Mississippi County. Some business owners are already preparing for the new mill.
"We are excited and ready, that's why we put the new pumps out there," said Milan, owner of a Shell gas station in Osceola.
Kennemore said this project was a group effort by city, county and state officials.