A newly formed company focused on sustainable scrap metal recycling and steel production has selected a greenfield site in northeast Arkansas to build the first of its two rebar steel mini mills. Highbar LLC’s mills, built with technology by SMS group, are designed to be world leaders in terms of energy and water efficiency, labor productivity, and carbon emission reductions.
Highbar plans to invest approximately $500 million and create 200 direct and indirect jobs. The direct jobs will pay $140,000 a year on average plus benefits, while the indirect jobs will pay $60,000 a year on average plus benefits. During the planned 22-month construction period, peak construction employment is expected to exceed 600 jobs.
“My team and I have had great success investing billions of dollars in northeast Arkansas over the past eight years,” said Dave Stickler, chief executive officer of Highbar and senior managing partner of Global Principal Partners, a metals and mining investment and project development firm. “I am pleased that after conducting a multi-state site search that we are able to make this announcement today. Arkansas is a great place to conduct business, especially steel business.”
The Highbar mill will be located on over 600 acres of property just outside of the town of Osceola. The project will include space for an expanded Mississippi River port facility, a direct Class 1 railroad connection, and a planned adjacent solar installation. Groundbreaking is scheduled to take place in the second quarter of 2023 once final permits are in place and equipment deliveries begin.
Reflecting the mill’s location in the center of the U.S. and its proximity to truck, rail, and barge transportation mode, Highbar has already achieved significant market acceptance with over 20% of its output pre-sold under long-term agreements.
“The addition of Highbar’s first rebar mill in Arkansas will not only support the growing steel industry in northeast Arkansas, but it will further diversify our economy and provide hundreds of high-wage jobs to deserving families,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “I’m excited about the opportunities this significant investment will bring to the region.”
“Arkansas continues the momentum to become a national leader in the steel industry,” said Arkansas Department of Commerce Secretary Mike Preston. “Companies like Highbar are looking for locations where they can find a qualified workforce and low business costs while being able to get products to customers quickly and efficiently. Arkansas checks all of the boxes, and companies are taking note. I am confident we will continue to see many such investments in the future.”
Bartlo Packaging Relocates Operations To Helena
Bartlo Packaging (BPS), a toll manufacturer serving the specialty chemical industry, will expand its operations in Helena, AR. The company has recently acquired a 105,000-square-foot building adjacent to its current operations and plans to add approximately 50 new positions. As part of the expansion, BPS will transition its existing operations in Passaic, NJ, to Helena. The expansion will bring an estimated $1.3 million investment to Phillips County.
“BPS is very happy to announce a major expansion to our business and facilities in Phillips County,” said Bartlo CEO Allen Bartlo. “Begun as an outgrowth of Bartlo Packaging in order to be closer to our customers in the agricultural market, BPS has grown to equal the sales and capabilities of the original New Jersey company. I personally have always felt strong ties to Helena, enjoying seven years living on 10th Street. After 30 years we have made the decision to go ‘all in’ and move the entirety of our operation to Phillips County. Thank you very much for being so welcoming.”
BPS, which currently employs more than 70 people in Helena, specializes in repackaging powders, liquids, and granules into unit dose packages. BPS said that consolidating its operations will better serve its customers in the central and southern regions of the country.
“We’re excited about the potential this expansion will have on Helena and throughout Phillips County,” said Gov. Hutchinson. “BPS has been a strong community partner for many years, and these jobs will go a long way in improving the lives of dozens of families. I am especially thrilled to hear that we will also be welcoming some transplants. I’m confident they will find Helena a wonderful place in which to live, work, and raise their families.”
Moving the production will approximately double BPS sales, Bartlo explained. BPS’s capabilities will expand beyond packaging to include dry and wet milling and laboratory capabilities including liquid and gas chromatography.
Veolia North America Celebrates Groundbreaking At Gum Springs
Veolia North America recently held a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the construction of a new state-of-the-art thermal waste treatment facility in the Gum Springs-Arkadelphia region. Once completed, the facility will be the most advanced, environmentally efficient of its kind in the U.S., demonstrating Veolia’s commitment to economic growth and environmental innovation in Arkansas.
The new facility will replace the two thermal plants currently in operation at the Gum Springs site, which Veolia acquired in 2020 before embarking on an ambitious effort to set a new standard for the safe, sustainable handling of waste materials.
The project, which is expected to open in 2024, is the first of its kind to be permitted in the U.S. in over seven years. It will create more than 100 full-time jobs and provide opportunities for hundreds of trade contractors during construction.
“Through major expansions like the facility in Gum Springs, Veolia remains focused on supporting our regional footprint through results-driven innovation and investment in infrastructure upgrades that create meaningful, permanent jobs for the local community,” said Fred Van Heems, Veolia North American President and CEO. “As members of the Gum Springs-Arkadelphia community, this ribbon cutting affirms our commitment to sharing both our resources and expertise with our communities while working together to build environmentally sound and innovative projects.”
Located on an approximately 1,400-acre site, the Gum Springs treatment facility currently features two thermal treatment plants and an encapsulated landfill which are permitted to treat and dispose of a wide variety of hazardous waste materials. The new facility, which will replace the existing thermal plants, will feature the most advanced technology available on the market for capturing emissions and preserving air quality and natural resources in the community.
It will also be the first facility of its kind in the nation to be outfitted to capture thermal heat for the generation of heat and electricity at the plant, further reducing the plant’s impact on the environment and the community.
“I am happy to celebrate the construction of this impressive new facility, which will bring enormous economic and environmental benefits to the people of this community and our state,” said Gov. Hutchinson. “We are making it known that Arkansas is a place where companies like Veolia can bring innovation and growth, and invest in the future.”
Boston, MA-based Veolia North America employs more than 10,000 workers at over 350 locations across the continent. The new facility will support Veolia’s mission of leading the ecological transformation of the planet by safely and responsibly handling and disposing of waste materials that otherwise would pose a threat to the environment.
“Helena is such a rich area of history and culture within our state, and BPS’ decision to move the company’s entire operations to Helena is a testament to the success BPS has experienced in Helena over the past several years,” said Preston. “Businesses are realizing that they can lower their costs here while still maintaining the highest standards of quality and productivity, not to mention the amazing quality of life we offer.”
Approximately 10 current employees have already expressed an interest in moving from New Jersey to the Helena area, attracted by the reasonable housing costs in Phillips County compared to New Jersey and the welcome change of moving away from a highly urban environment. The remainder of the new hires will come directly from the Helena area.
“This announcement by BPS, a company and employer already well liked and well known here for 30 years, will not only help fill the jobs lost at this same location four years ago, but makes a statement to everyone paying attention that Helena-West Helena and Arkansas are great places to locate and expand,” said Mayor Kevin Smith. “I speak for the entire community when I express our excitement, as well as our gratitude, to Allen Bartlo, Governor Hutchinson, Partners Bank President Vance St. Columbia, and everyone who is helping make this work for our community.”
Vance St. Columbia, president and interim CEO of Partners Bank, commented “Al Bartlo, owner of Bartlo Packaging (BPS), could have chosen any city or any state in the United States to move his plant to, but he chose Helena. He chose Arkansas. He knows our community, and he loves our state. That speaks volumes about the people of Helena and the great state of Arkansas. On behalf of Partners Bank, we are proud to be a part of this transition with Al and Bartlo Packaging.”