University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Big River Steel and the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System

In The View from the OEP on February 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

beebe steelLast week, Governor Beebe welcomed plans for a $1.1 billion steel mill for Osceola, AR: a region of the state that could use an economic boost. The steel mill overall has some promising features. It would employ 525 people a year with an annual average compensation of $75,000 a year.  The project would make Mississippi County the second largest steel-producing county in the U.S.

The development of the mill is accompanied by an impressive incentive package that state legislators must first approve. Incentives include:

  • A $125 million loan for start-up costs
  • Sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and equipment used in the project
  • A 4% income tax credit based on new payroll jobs for five years
  • $10 million from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund
  • 5 million from the Department of Workforce Services Trust Fund for training
  • An income tax credit for recycling equipment equal to 30% of eligible recycling costs that will include legislation that could extend the credit from 3-14 years
  • Sales Tax Exemption on utilities that will include legislation to fully exempt sales tax associated with sale of natural gas and electricity

Retirement PartyHere’s where the mill will more directly affect Arkansas’ education system. On Monday, the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System (ATRS) is set to vote on whether it will invest $60 million dollars into the project, giving the ATRS a 20% stake in the mill. This document, originally posted by the Arkansas Times, summarizes the ATRS  investment proposal.

If you are a teacher in Arkansas, you have a stake in this investment. Follow us on Twitter and here on the blog to get updates on these issues.

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