The signs have been clear for months, but the huge Chinese pulp mill promised for a site near Arkadelphia is officially dead.
Said Mike Preston, whose recent pay as director of economic development has included bonuses for landing deals such as this:
Today we received notification from Sun Paper officials they will not be moving forward with the project in Clark County, due to the new economic uncertainties brought on by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the ongoing trade dispute.
It’s a big disappointment for everyone involved. Lots of hard work, from the local community to our state partners, went into to seeing this project succeed.
It’s important to note, there have been no incentives paid to the company, and we are evaluating how we might use the de-obligated funds for other economic opportunities.”
Here’s the breakup letter from Shandong Sun Paper. The $1.8 billion project was supposed to create 250 jobs and lift the forest industry as well. Local governments have been spending to develop a rail-served industrial park and now they can go looking for other tenants. Long before the coronavirus, trade issues had imperiled the deal. Other no-gos so far are a textile mill in Forrest City and a pet food plant in Fort Smith. Tens of millions in state and local incentives were promised for the pulp mill.