Farm arena plans to give $4.5 million to Arkansas State Farm, the nation’s largest farm bank, in a historic deal that will put the state’s economy back on track.
Mike Beebe announced the deal Monday after receiving assurances from the state Senate that the project would not cost taxpayers money.
State Farm President John L. Miller told reporters the deal would benefit Arkansans in two ways.
First, it would give Arkansas State an edge on big farms and other large, state-run institutions.
Second, it will help the state farm economy, he said.
State Rep. Steve Tomsula, a Democrat from Little Rock, said he was disappointed in the timing of the deal.
“It is disappointing that a project that is supposed to improve Arkansas’ economic outlook and our agriculture industry will cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” he said in a statement.
The Arkansas Agricultural Center will receive $4 million to begin construction of the arena, which will include a $1.6 billion, state headquarters and a $500 million state-owned bank, according to the announcement.
The bank will provide a $400 million operating reserve for Arkansas State, and a similar amount for the Arkansas State University system.
The state Farm Bureau and Arkansas State Agricultural Center are jointly managing the project.
The deal also includes an estimated $1 billion investment in the state of Arkansas’ agricultural infrastructure.
Statewide, the investment will create more than 1,000 jobs, according the announcement, adding to the approximately 300,000 people who are currently employed in agriculture.
“We are proud to partner with the State Farm Bank and Arkansas Agricultural Community to create jobs and economic opportunity for Arkansas and the surrounding states, Miller said in the announcement.”
The project is expected to be complete by 2020.