As rumored over the weekend, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today he’s convening the legislature for a special session after Memorial Day weekend to consider a major defense-related economic development project in Camden. Legislators will return to the Capitol on May 26.
Hutchinson made the announcement at a Political Animals luncheon at the governor’s mansion. The project will make use of Amendment 82, which gives the governor the ability to award “superproject” incentives to attract investment to the state but still requires legislative approval of the associated appropriation.
Talk Business had more details on the project over the weekend:
The special session would center on a potential economic development superproject involving Lockheed Martin in Camden, Arkansas. The aerospace and defense contractor is in the running for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) being developed by the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps as a successor to the popular Humvee vehicle, which has been in service since 1985.
No word yet on whether the special session might also include consideration of other issues aside from these incentives.
Amendment 82 incentives were used in 2013 to coax a steel producer into building the Big River Steel plant in Mississippi County, where construction is ongoing.
In a press release, the governor’s office said the project would create 600 jobs, eventually, if Lockheed Martin is the company that actually secures the JLTV contract from the military. Here’s the full release:
Governor Asa Hutchinson intends to call a special session of the Arkansas General Assembly for a limited purpose to consider an Amendment 82 bond issue for a “super project” industrial opportunity in south Arkansas. If approved, this project would create, over time, almost 600 jobs while securing more than 1,100 jobs for the life of the project. An official call for the special session set for May 26th will go out later this month.
“Job creation and economic development is the No. 1 priority for my administration, and we have a great opportunity here to create hundreds of new, good-paying jobs in Arkansas — and retain hundreds more,” Governor Hutchinson said. “If approved by the legislature, this project would not only create hundreds of jobs, but it would also put Arkansas on the map in terms of vehicle assembly and the potential for a major defense contract. Of course, any obligation to the state will be conditioned upon an actual award from the United States Army.”
Approved by voters in 2004, Amendment 82 allows the state to issue bonds to finance infrastructure and other needs in order to attract major projects to the state of Arkansas.