Construction begins on Big River Steel

Construction begins on Big River Steel
(Source: KAIT-TV)

OSCEOLA, AR (KAIT) - Construction has officially started on the Big River Steel mill in Osceola.

After several lawsuits to stop construction, more than 200 construction workers are on the ground.

Big River Steel is being constructed on 1,400 acres of land. Several construction projects are already underway including the actual steel plant, the caster, and import stations along the Mississippi River.

John Correnti, CEO of Big River Steel, said this $1.3 billion project is bringing hundreds of jobs to the area. Along with those the mill will employ, the project is using other industries, like Entergy, to get the mill up and running.

Correnti said the logistics of the land are perfect for the steel mill. Big River Steel will sit between the Mississippi River and a major railroad, while also being near to a major interstate.

"People have heard me refer to this as steel mill heaven," Correnti said. "And the reason we are here is really because of the work ethic of Arkansas farm boys and farm girls."

Correnti said he has the utmost admiration for the workers and leadership in Northeast Arkansas.

City and county leaders are excited for Big River Steel to be complete. Dickie Kennemore, Mayor of Osceola, said the city has suffered economic downfalls in the past few years.

"We are very blessed to have this facility located here because it is going to create the jobs for a lot of the unemployed, but also it's going to bring a lot of the people who had to leave here, that this was home, that want to come back," Kennemore said.

Judge Randy Carney, Mississippi County Judge, said he is thrilled for the economic growth this industry will bring. He said Correnti's history proves it.

"When all the construction workers were there, they saw 17.2% increase in sales tax," Carney said. "So obviously we are excited about that and what it's going to do for the economy."

Construction is scheduled to be complete by June 2016.

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