LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) - A bill that was approved by the Arkansas legislature on Friday will allow Mississippi County to compete for a $900 million economic development project that supporters say will make the county the "21st Century version of Pittsburgh."
Both the Senate and House approved Senate Bill 688, sponsored by Sen. Dave Wallace, R-Leachville and Rep. Monte Hodges, D-Blytheville.
The bill will help the county vie for the second phase of the Big River Steel project. Wallace told senators that Arkansas is competing against Florida and Texas for the project, which is expected to create at least 150 jobs with an average salary of $75,000.
According to the bill, the bill would amend the state's income tax credit for waste reduction, reuse or recycling equipment to provide up to an $11 million tax credit for the project.
"(It) is issued to the taxpayer making the purchase of waste reduction, reuse or recycling equipment under subdivision (c) (1) of this section may be claimed each tax year if the tax credits are allowed with respect to a qualified expansion project," the bill noted.
There were several senators who questioned the tax credit issue during the debate.
However, both Wallace and Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith, said there would be protections in place including having a 1:1 ratio for jobs created versus the amount of the money claimed under the credit as well as requiring the jobs and salaries to be created within a certain period of time.
Wallace said the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Department of Finance and Administration have been working with Big River Steel officials on the bill.
Company officials earlier this month hosted a grand opening in Osceola for the first phase of the project.
At the time, officials said the mill would recycle two million tons of scrap metal and create 1.6 million tons of finished steel.
Wallace said the first phase has helped bring other businesses to Blytheville and Osceola.
"It is a net positive for Arkansas and the Delta," Wallace said.
The bill now heads to Governor Asa Hutchinson for approval.
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