Beebe: Major economic development project in works


LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Beebe told lawmakers Tuesday that his office and the state Department of Economic Development are close to landing a major industry that would possibly require the state to issue bonds.

Though he offered no specifics, the governor described the project to lawmakers in his state-of-the-state address as “one of the biggest projects the state has ever seen.”

“It’s a potentially Amendment 82 project,” he told reporters after his speech to a joint session of the House and Senate.

In 2010, voters approved a change to Amendment 82 that lowered the threshold for issuing state bonds to attract major industries.

The change removed limits set in Amendment 82 on the size of economic development projects eligible for support through general obligation bonds. Projects currently must return a $500 million investment and create at least 500 jobs.

Beebe told lawmakers in his state-of-the-state-address, and reporters later, that he was deliberately vague on details of the project because it was still being completed.

“I haven’t been able to fully disclose because there is still a dangling participle out there, there is still a small contingency that is being worked out and until that is through we’re not ready to make any announcements,” he said, adding he has not yet discussed the project with legislators.

“It looks promising,” he said. “It will require some legislative action because of the size of it … hopefully very quickly.”

Beebe said he hopes to make an official announcement about the major project sometime during the regular session that began Monday.