GROWING: Big River Steel.

Big River Steel has announced a $1.2 billion expansion of its scrap recycling and steel production mill in Mississippi County.

The expansion will double production and is expected to add 500 jobs at the plant, Arkansas Business reports.


The expansion comes 18 months after the mill began operating. From a state release:

In addition to doubling its hot-rolled steel production and enhancing its electrical steel capability, Big River is also contemplating the installation of a next generation coating line focused on automotive applications. Such an installation may involve a steel industry partner. With its entrepreneurial mindset, Big River Steel is also exploring opportunities to supply the market with grain-oriented steel products, either within this expansion phase or as a future endeavor.

The Koch financial empire is the biggest equity investor in this mill, put in motion with enormous corporate welfare from Arkansas over the objections of an existing steel operation that didn’t enjoy the same degree of taxpayer support. The  Teacher Retirement System also has an investment in the plant. Here’s a Joe Nocera column on the deal back when it was struck.


I’ve asked for a recap of state contributions to the latest expansion. Such expansions typicall qualify for sales tax breaks on materials and get a tax credit for jobs created. The state also offers a tax credit for recycling equipment. CORRECTION: The sales tax and job creation benefits were granted to the initial investment, but not to this project. A spokesman for the state notes the jobs will pay on average about $75,000 annually.