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Canton Lawsuit Against Nissan Could Affect Future Business Deals

By Daniel Cherry | Published 05 Jul 2011 07:19pm | comments

A lawsuit by the City of Canton against Nissan North America has the potential to set a broad legal precedent in the State of Mississippi. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the result could affect how the state attracts industry in the future.

The federal court has to decide: Is a state law prohibiting Canton from annexing the Nissan plant constitutional? The state attorney general's office says the suit should be thrown out. Representative Ed Blackmon of Canton says no one is trying to annex anything yet...they're just exploring their options.

"If there were no statute and no controversy concerning the law, I think the City of Canton as well as any other city, would look to see if that's an area that they would want to bring into the corporate limits."

The plant sits just outside Canton, and doesn't pay the city taxes. Melissa Medley with the Mississippi Development Authority says the tax plan was part of the deal.

"The company, when they chose Mississippi, worked hard with the former administration and with the state officials, and with local and county officials in working out an agreement that all of us agreed to abide by."

Medley says it's now up to officials and the court to see if that agreement will stand. If the federal court rules in favor of Canton it could mean other cities would be able to annex areas in spite of previous agreements. Small business owner Ed Hutchison runs the Emporium in downtown Canton. He says he doesn't think the suit is improving the city's business climate.

"If there was incentives for a big business to come here to provide all these jobs and be an economic boom to the town then they should go by the deal that they struck. Otherwise nobody is ever going to come here again. If I had a large business and I saw how Nissan was being treated I'd say 'Forget it'".

Nissan currently pays a fee to Canton schools and to Madison County instead of taxes.







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