LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On Tuesday US Steel announced they would be investing $3 billion in a facility in Osceola. 

When it is complete Mississippi County will be the largest steel-producing county in the entire country.

“Arkansas is going to play such an integral role an American produced steel it’s pretty exciting for the state,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said.

During the most recent Special Session lawmakers passed a law to expand the use of tax credits for recycling and a $50 million transfer of funds to help with infrastructure construction as part of a package to entice US Steel to expand in Northeast Arkansas.

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said that and other policies that have been enacted over time have created what US Steel is calling a business-friendly climate.

“The fact that we’ve lowered taxes, consistently done so, how had a balanced budget, we’ve been able to utilize our surplus to put into restrictive reserve funds. These are all things that a business who is getting ready to invest $3 billion will consider,” Preston said.

The plant will produce high-end steel that will be used in automobiles and used for electric car batteries. 

It will also reuse steel as a means to create their products and Preston said the labor force in Arkansas in conjunction with the two-year college there was a huge driving force for US Steel picking Arkansas.

The company announced the average starting salary for the plant will be $100,000 and looks to create 900 new jobs.

“It’s a great day when we can celebrate an additional $95 million in annual payroll coming into the state and that’s just the start.”

The Governor also announced the project will be LEED-certified and US Steel is striving to have zero carbon emission at the site by the year 2050.

Mississippi County also hopes to help recruit workers for the new project.

They have created a program that will reimburse those who choose to relocate to Mississippi County 10%, up to $50,000, on a new home purchase after they have worked at the plant for four years.

Economic Developer for Mississippi County Clif Chitwood said it is important for companies to have a local workforce they can lay their hands on and it also be a steady workforce at that.

“Where are the employees will live in the community, be part of the community in order to have the stability that a large industrial manufacturing plant requires,” Chitwood explained.

The project also looks to create an estimated 2,400 ancillary and downstream jobs.  Preston mentioned things like shipping and support jobs for the mill. 

Chitwood said people get excited about new restaurants in the area and hope jobs like that will spawn from this also.

Both the Governor and Chitwood mentioned Mississippi County lost 9,000 jobs in the ‘90s due to the closing of Eckert Air Force Base and the domino effect of other jobs lost because it closed.

Chitwood said the region is optimistic they can get back to what it was before that with the addition of high-paying, stable jobs US Steel is bringing in.

“Remember what Christmas was like when you were 12? And that’s what today is like in Mississippi county,” Chitwood said with excitement.

US Steel hopes to break ground on the project sometime in the first quarter of this year and hopes to be fully operational in approximately two years.