Reports of $500 Million Steel Mill in Blytheville are Not Accurate

BLYTHEVILLE, AR - Mississippi County's reputation as one of the South's busiest hubs for steel production may be about to grow even more.

An Ohio-based company has chosen the county for the site of a new $500 million steel mill, over a site in northwest Tennessee, according to a Tennessee newspaper.  The Union City Daily Messenger reported yesterday that Union City and Blytheville were competing for the Warren Fabricating and Machining Corp. plant with tax incentive packages.

Tennessee economic administrator Kingsley Brock told the newspaper that the company notified the state last month that it picked Blytheville over the Cates Landing economic development project on the Mississippi River near Tiptonville.

The project includes a steel mill plant and fabrication shop and could employ up to 1,000 people.

State economic development officials confirmed the plant is not coming to Tennessee.  However, Region 8 News has learned that doesn't necessarily mean that northeast Arkansas is a lock for the plant.

A spokesman for Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe said he couldn't comment on whether a steel plant was headed to the site.  Joe Holmes, a spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, says his agency doesn't discuss pending projects until after a company announces.  Holmes says he doesn't know of any pending economic development announcements.

State Senator Steve Bryles of Blytheville says he's surprised by the news.  Bryles says the area should be attractive to steel manufacturers but declined to comment on the project.  However, Blytheville Mayor Barrett Harrison indicated to Region 8 News that his city is not in the running for the facility.  Sources in Mississippi County do, however, indicate that Osceola may be.  Mississippi County Judge Steve McGuire said he's excited about the possibilities, but could not comment further at this time.

The Blytheville-Armorel area is the site of two large mills operated by the Nucor Corporation, one of which is a joint venture with the Japan-based Yamato corporation.  Several other steel-related businesses are industries are also located in the area as well.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)