JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi lawmakers will consider more than $275 million in incentives beginning Thursday for a tire plant and a shipyard that could cumulatively invest more than $1.5 billion and create 3,500 jobs.
Gov. Phil Bryant called a special legislative session Wednesday, a day after a lawmaker told The Associated Press that such legislation was imminent.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, said the state would borrow about $275 million, with most money going to what lawmakers say is a tire plant near Bolton in western Hinds County. The Clarion-Ledger has reported the plant would be built by German firm Continental AG. The remainder of the money would go to a shipyard in Gulfport operated by a unit of Louisiana-based Edison Chouest, the newspaper reports.
State Senate President Pro Tem Terry Burton, R-Newton, said the two projects are projected to total more than $1.5 billion in capital investment and more than 3,500 jobs.
The total cost of tax breaks and incentives would be significantly more than $275 million, although a total cost projection wasn’t immediately available Wednesday. State Sen. John Horhn, R-Jackson, said Hinds County would also borrow money for the plant. The document issued by Bryant outlining permissible legislation for the session also includes property tax breaks, an agreement by municipalities not to annex the site, and other incentives.
“I think it has the potential to be a great project for Hinds County,” Hohrn said.
The state Public Service Commission voted 3-0 Tuesday to allow Energy Mississippi to offer a special electrical rate to an unnamed industry. Cecil Brown, Democratic Central District public service commissioner, said the company seeks to locate at a 915-acre site in western Hinds County that the county has been developing.
The Mississippi Development Authority, the state’s lead industrial recruiting agency, has declined comment.
Lawmakers must vote on industrial incentives when Mississippi borrows to pay for land, infrastructure or subsidies. State law typically requires a company to invest at least $300 million, or $150 million if the company creates 1,000 or more new jobs. In 2013, Mississippi granted Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. a projected $330 million of incentives, including up to $130 million in borrowing.
Hinds County has assembled a site and supervisors rezoned 915 acres just north of Interstate 20 to heavy industrial use at a special Jan. 18 meeting. Of that land, 635 acres is land held in trust for public schools. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said he couldn’t comment Tuesday when asked whether the state is working on swapping that land for other land elsewhere, as is allowed under rules governing 16th section land.
The site near Bolton first rose to notice when the state sought a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill wetlands in July 2014. The documents showed a plan for construction of a 5.2 million square foot industrial building and operations center, a 23-acre parking lot, detention ponds and nearly 2 miles of railroad spur.
James Peden, a lawyer representing nearby residents, said the Hinds County Economic Development Authority has an option to buy an additional 280 acres north of the school land. Peden said talks have been going on concerning the site for at least 18 months. He said that as part of the January rezoning, county supervisors agreed to require a 150-foot buffer zone on the north and east sides of the property to protect nearby homes from intrusion.
Records show the Hinds County Economic Development Authority has spent something more than $30,000 in the last year recruiting what’s called Project Potter. Smith said that’s the code name for effort.
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