Arkansas Legislature hires consultants to review steel mill project

by The City Wire staff ( 7 views 

Arkansas Senate President Michael Lamoureux, R-Russellville, and House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, released a memo today (Feb. 26) disclosing that they have hired two economist groups to review the $1.1 billion steel mill superproject announced last month.

Gov. Mike Beebe and state economic development leaders reported the state’s first superproject, the billion-dollar Big River Steel Mill, which will hire 525 workers in northeast Arkansas. Arkansas lawmakers have been asked to approve a $125 million bond issue to finance incentives and loans for the project.

Under provisions of Amendment 82, the state’s superproject law, legislators must independently analyze provisions of the deal.

Lamoureux and Carter said that Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) would review the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s proposal. REMI will be paid $29,000 and submit their report by March 11.

The REMI review will include a cost-benefit analysis of the project, and an economic, fiscal and demographic impacts for employment, taxes, GDP, population, wages, and other items.

A second contract was signed with Global Insight, Inc., which will also provide a cost-benefit analysis of the project. In addition to reviewing the same economic, fiscal and demographic impacts as the REMI study, Global Insight will also analyze capital costs, financing, economic incentives, steel market demand, and factors influencing the long-term profitability of the plant.

Global Insight will be paid $48,750 for its report, which is expected to be delivered to lawmakers by March 12.

Speaker Carter said both firms were hired because it is the state’s first attempt at a superproject review and legislators agreed they wanted “two sets of eyes” to review the deal.