The heralded $1.8 billion Shangdong Sun Paper Industry mill that was to be built in Clark County is now so iffy that the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance is referring to the industrial property as “the former Sun Bio site” on its Facebook page:
SUPER SITE – The Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance is working with Entergy to have the former Sun Bio site certified in order to market the 1,000-acre property to a potential industry.
Certification signifies the site has all the necessary information industrial prospects or site selection consultants need to select a location.
Once certification is granted by Entergy’s Business and Economic Development team, Entergy will plan a formal, public announcement of the site certification. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission will be notified so the state can also market the site as a premier location in Arkansas.
Arkansas Business quotes the Arkadelphia economic development agency’s CEO, Stephen Bell, as saying the plant hasn’t been canceled officially: “I wouldn’t say it was ominous, but it’s not good.”
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The Arkansas Blog reported in September that, according to a delegation of Chinese visitors to the Arkansas Times’ office, President Trump’s trade war and tariffs were slowing the mill. The tariffs, the visitors told the Times, would be applied to equipment to be imported to the U.S. for the plant as well as products to be exported.
Bell told Arkansas Business that plans to market the site need to go forward to “answer to Clark County residents,” who put up $10 million to attract the Sun Paper company.
Other Chinese projects announced for Arkansas that have not gotten off the ground include the Shandong Ruyi Technology Group’s $410 million garment plant in Forrest City and Pet Wong Pet Products’ $5 million dog food plant in Danville. Both were announced in 2017.
Mike Preston of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission appears to be undaunted by the delay in Arkadelphia and Forrest City. He told Arkansas Business that Sun Paper is committed to the project, and Arkansas Money and Politics that “it’s reasonable to think that changes to the trade situation in the coming weeks will spur it along.”