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Lawmakers Examine Economic Development Proposals

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 01 Sep 2011 09:12pm | comments
Lawmakers hold packets explaining the proposal.

Three economic development opportunities are on the agenda for today's special session of the Mississippi legislature. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that law makers are considering issuing bonds and restructuring a tax rebate to bring 48-hundred jobs to the state.

Lawmakers spent several hours Thursday afternoon hearing details about a 175-million dollar bond package to bring two high tech manufacturing companies, Calisolar and HCL Cleantech, to Mississippi.

Mississippi Development Authority deputy director Whit Hughes says the value of the companies outweighs the cost.

"Particularly during challenging economic times and working our way out of a downturn economy. Any time you can contemplate successfully locating jobs and investment on this level, it is a positive thing in which everyone has a shared interest," Hughes said.

Calisolar makes silicone from Mississippi trees and gravel and other products.

The company claims they would bring 900 jobs to Columbus.

Starkville Representative Tyrone Ellis, whose district includes the industrial park where the company would move, says that is a persuasive offer.

"From what I have seen thus far, I have no choice but to support it. Because those pulp wood haulers, and those timber haulers that are the people that are going to benefit from it," Ellis said.

HCL Cleantech would turn Mississippi trees into industrial sugars.

They would start with a headquarters in Olive Branch before building more three plants in tree rich areas around the state bringing 800 jobs.

Senate Finance committee Chairman Dean Kirby of Pearl says Mississippi is getting a good deal because the bonds would be given to the companies as loans, that the companies would pay back.

"As far as loan that are guaranteed, that is what we are talking about here. We want to make sure that the state has enough security so that if anything happens to any company, that the state will not lose money," Kirby said.

Lawmakers are also being asked to restructure an existing tax rebate for job creation program for Huntington Ingalls on the gulf coast.

Officials say the rebates would cost the state $15 million over 10 years and help the company add about 3,000 jobs within four years.

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Lawmakers hold packets explaining the proposal.


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