Mississippi County pushing to move forward, new housing planned

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 10:44 PM CDT
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MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - Mississippi County, what was once known as a thriving area in the Delta, is hoping to push back to retain that title.

After companies and the U.S. Airforce base moved out of the county, the area changed.

Nearly 10,000 people left Mississippi County in the 90s, according to Cliff Chitwood.

“Up until the early 90s Mississippi County still had over 70 thousand people,” he said.

Chitwood works with the economic development of the county. He said without jobs, people will not move to the area.

According to Chitwood, between 70,000 and 80,000 people lived across Mississippi County by finding jobs on farms and in factories.

Those jobs were readily available for decades, but when a lot of the factories left, that left a lot of people out of jobs and caused a lot of them to move outside of Mississippi County.

Since then, leaders have worked to bring the county back to what a lot of people remember by adding housing programs and jobs.

“Mississippi County will be the largest steel-producing county in the United States with the new US Steel plant in Osceola,” Chitwood said.

The steel industry is a leading contributor to the increase in population in the county. Over the years, more jobs have been produced by this industry.

RELATED: Steel company opens second mill in Mississippi County

RELATED: $3 billion steel mill to bring hundreds of jobs to Northeast Arkansas

With this, more housing is being made.

“This is the first year in probably 35 years that there have been new housing developments,” Chitwood said. “Or a developer actually puts in a road, sewer water, electricity, and sells lots.”

He explained new housing is planned in Gosnell, Manila, Osceola, and Wilson, and he hopes the new options will turn the county around.

“We hope this will build our population and the number of people that live in the county,” Chitwood said.

He said the new steel mill being built in Osceola will bring hundreds of new jobs to the area.

Chitwood also explained how the current steel mills will need around 100 to 150 new employees yearly to sustain their workload.