Describing it as a game changer for both the state's economy and the future of steel, officials cut the ribbon on a $1.3 billion "flex mill" in Osceola Wednesday. The mill has been online for almost a year, though January was the facility's first at full capacity. Officials say it’s already given Arkansas a place as a leader in the worldwide steel industry.
According to Big River Steel CEO David Stickler, the mill employs some 450 people who earn an average of $75,000 per year (that number may rise to $90,000). Supporters of Big River Steel said those employees can afford houses, cars, goods and services, which bolster the rural economy and create spin-off businesses that serve Big River employees and their families.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who said he supported the Big River Steel project when he was a candidate for the office, said the flex mill is not just good for northeast Arkansas but for the entire state. A flex mill combines an integrated mill with a steel mini-mill.