Mississippi County in Arkansas’ first congressional district is one of the top steel producing counties in the country and its representative in Congress is about to take a key role in shaping steel policy.
U.S. Rep. Crawford, R- Ark., has been chosen to be the co-chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Steel Caucus, along with U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Illinois. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., will continue to serve as vice-chairman of the caucus, which was founded in the early 1970s to promote the health of the domestic steel industry and its workforce.
“Steel isn’t a product that we can depend on other nations to produce for us. Critical to our country’s infrastructure, military, and economy as a whole, a strong domestic steel industry is a national security imperative that also provides excellent opportunities for people across the country living largely in rural areas like my district, the second most steel producing district in the nation,” Crawford said.
“From working against unfair trade practices to protecting good-paying and highly-skilled American jobs, I’m looking forward to leading this caucus with my colleagues, Representatives Mike Bost and Peter Visclosky,” Crawford added.
Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI),applauded the announcement of Crawford and Bost as the new co-chairmen of the Congressional Steel Caucus.
“Congressman Crawford has been a tenacious supporter of steel producing companies and their workers. With the First District of Arkansas among the top steel producing districts in the U.S., Congressman Crawford has worked tirelessly to ensure a strong steel industry. He has also been a vocal supporter of a robust, long-term transportation bill, and of workforce development to promote the future of the manufacturing workforce both of which are key for the American steel industry.
“Congressman Bost has been a leader in the fight to level the playing field for domestic steelmakers. He lead the effort to enact the first improvements to our trade laws in more than 20 years, and has consistently stood up for American workers whose jobs are put at risk by global competitors who skirt trade laws. His long-standing commitment and dedication to steel has been key in promoting more fair competition for the American steel industry,” he said.
Nucor Corp. operates facilities in Blytheville and Big River Steel operates a facility in Osceola, both of which are in Mississippi County. Nucor employs an estimated 750 workers, and Big River Steel employs 435. Workers in the plants make on average more than $75,000 per year, far above the median income in the county, one of the most impoverished in the state.
On Wednesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and regional leaders announced that Chinese-based Hefei Risever Machinery Co. would open a new $20 million factory in Jonesboro. Risever makes steel machine parts for heavy construction equipment.