Big River Steel, jobs welcome in Osceola
OSCEOLA, Ark. — Forty miles upriver from Memphis, nearly 2,000 construction workers from far away as Utah and Texas are completing the final stages of a $1.3 billion steel mill that has turned the once faded Arkansas Delta city of Osceola into a boom town.
Home rental rates are rising and sales tax collections have soared in advance of five suppliers bringing in more than 250 jobs to complement the 450 expected at Big River Steel LLC once the mill reaches full output later this year.
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Pressing home the notion that this hard-pressed old river town has turned the corner: Big River Steel job fairs have been scheduled in East Arkansas cities in early April, and training classes are ramping up at Arkansas Northeastern College for workers such as welders and forklift drivers.
“I never dreamed in my wildest dreams we could ever attract something like this,” Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore said. “If you want a job in Mississippi County today all you have to do is show up for work.”
The arrival of 700 permanent jobs — steel mill wages start at $75,000 per year — is welcome in a small city that fretted even Walmart passed it by after the U.S. Air Force in 1992 closed the huge B-52 bomber base up the road near Blytheville.
Source: The Commercial Appeal