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Arkansas county OKs $14.5M Big River grant

Keywords: Tags  Big River Steel, John Correnti, Mississippi County, grant, catherine ngai

NEW YORK — Mississippi County Quorum Court in Arkansas has unanimously approved a conditional $14.5-million grant for Big River Steel LLC’s proposed flat-rolled steel project, according to a court spokesman.

The money will be used to improve physical infrastructure on the property provided the construction of the $1.1-billion project in Osceola, Ark., moves forward, the spokesman said. "It will be primarily used to improve infrastructure, including a large (natural) gas line that has to run about 14 miles from a center point main line. We haven’t made (the grant) specific, but it will all be used on physical infrastructure necessary to the physical completion of the project."

The $14.5 million will be granted only if the state also approves a $125-million bond to fund the project and the company finances its part of the obligations, the spokesman said. The company, spearheaded by industry veteran John D. Correnti, has said it will move forward with the proposed 1.7-million-ton-per-year mill if the state funding is granted (, March 18).

A spokesman at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission told AMM last month that if the state bond issuance is approved, Arkansas will not invest money until $300 million in equity from company investors and commitments from other lenders is deposited into an escrow account. Additionally, $250 million of company money must be spent before any bond proceeds can be given to the project (, Feb. 11).

The state House and Senate aim to vote on the bond issue before the legislature’s scheduled recess April 19, a Senate spokesman told AMM earlier this week (, March 26).

In addition to the state bond approval, the new complex will have to meet certain job-creation targets to keep the county funds, the court spokesman said. "The grant follows completion of the creation of 525 jobs at $75,000 a year. Of course, there are certain clawback provisions (that) Big River will sign before money is disbursed."

The $14.5 million from the county will come from a sales tax fund implemented in 2003 which raises some $2.7 million to $3.2 million annually for economic development.

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