SB 820, the enabling legislation for the $1.1 billion Big River Steel mill superproject, cleared its first two hurdles on Tuesday (April 2).
The measure, which outlines parameters of the major economic project, was approved by the Senate Agriculture and Economic Development Committee without a dissenting vote. The 8-member panel heard supporting testimony from the AEDC, lead investor John Correnti, and Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore.
Representatives of Nucor Steel spoke against the project.
The supporting and opposing arguments were similar to the discussion a week ago when a joint committee heard more than 5.5 hours of testimony about the project.
With the approving vote, the bill was sent to the full Senate for consideration. Senators suspended the rules and voted 26-6 for the measure. It now heads to the House for consideration.
Also, a companion House bill is expected to be heard in the House Agriculture and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday.
Today, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Arkansas endorsed Big River Steel.
“As an organization that represents some 1,300 businesses throughout Arkansas, we recognize the need to grow and expand industry in the state, particularly in areas that are struggling economically,” said Randy Zook, president & CEO of the State Chamber/AIA. “This type of project is a rare opportunity for the state to create a significant number of high-paying jobs. We strongly encourage members of the Arkansas General Assembly to carefully consider all the potential benefits of this project and vote to support the incentives to the Big River Steel project. .. Every business deal carries risks, but these are reasonable risks.”