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The $1.1 billion steel mill that Big River Steel LLC wants to build near Osceola is expected to cost taxpayers in Arkansas more than $132 million.

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Front Section, Pages 1 on 02/01/2013

Print Headline: Mill loads a cost on taxpayers

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  • Beckygillette
    February 1, 2013 at 8:57 a.m.

    If you had the experience of public officials Mississippi who have spent hundreds of thousands on big projects proposed by this developer that didn't pan out, you wouldn't be so quick to put taxpayers in Arkansas on the hook for over $130 million. Please see the article I wrote on this for MS Business Journal. go to msbusiness website for the entire story.

    John D. Correnti, the businessman Arkansas is counting on to deliver “the largest economic development project in the state’s history,” a proposed $1.1 billion steel mill in Mississippi County in northeast Arkansas, has recently failed to deliver on promises for big projects in Mississippi.

    Tuesday Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe announced that Correnti’s Big River Steel LLC, Blytheville, plans to build a steel mill near Osceola that would employ 525 people. Bebee plans to ask the legislature for $125 million in incentives for the project, with $50 million for a loan and the rest a gift.

    Today, the lead front-page article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette is that the Arkansas Teachers Retirement System wants to invest $60 million in the project. The head of the retirement system said it expects a 20 to 30 percent annual return on the investment in the steel mill.

    Public officials in Northeast Mississippi have said Correnti’s failure to deliver on big projects promised there has left a bad taste in their mouths.

    The Mississippi Legislature approved Correnti for $75 million in incentives for a Silicor Materials plant in Lowndes County. Correnti promised he would partner with international investors on a $200 million project to bring an innovative silicon purification process and high-paying jobs to Mississippi. But the company missed a Dec. 31 deadline to put $150,000 in an escrow account to keep it eligible for tax incentives from Lowndes County.

    A Columbus Commercial Dispatch headlined Jan. 5 was: “Jilted!: Collapse of Silicor project is latest of Correnti’s empty promises.”

    Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said taxpayers are out about $230,000 on the Silicor project Correnti promised that never came to fruition. Sanders predicts the big steel mill in Arkansas will never happen.

    “It makes no sense to me at all,” Sanders said. “John Correnti and this group have a history of speaking of great big, huge projects that never end up happening.

  • RBBrittain
    February 1, 2013 at 11:59 a.m.

    Beckygillette, are you sure you're not just jealous and hoping he'll go back to Mississippi if it falls thru here? I'm sure he could have come up with the $150K if he wanted to, but it didn't make business sense. Besides, some of the anti-Correnti articles I've read seem to equate him with, of all companies, Solyndra; IMO that's grasping at straws.
    .
    I have my questions too (especially about the Teachers Retirement investment), but you conveniently left out the fact that Correnti *did* successfully place a steel mill in that same part of Mississippi in 2007. An industrial site with the Mississippi River on one side and a railroad mainline on the other practically begs to be developed...

  • PenLR
    February 1, 2013 at 3:23 p.m.

    20 to 30 percent return on a $60 million investment into a $1.1 billion project sounds like it needs to be double checked. Mama says if it sounds too good to be true...

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