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Talks stall with Mississippi Silicon

 

Joe Higgins

Joe Higgins

 

 

Jeff Clark

 

With a Dec. 31 deadline drawing near, talks between the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors and a silicon company have stalled.  

 

Mississippi Silicon was given until 12 a.m. New Year's Eve to place $150,000 in escrow or lose a prime industrial site in Lowndes County, along with millions of dollars in incentive money. 

 

District 1 Supervisor and board president Harry Sanders and Golden Triangle Development Link CEO Joe Max Higgins both said Thursday that there has been no further communication with the silicon company officials since Higgins recommended the board approve the financial deadline. 

 

"(We) have not heard a word from them," Higgins said via email Thursday afternoon. 

 

Higgins recommended the new deadline with the $150,000 price tag attached after the company missed a Sept. 2 startup deadline and company officials said they could not meet the Dec. 31 deadline due to a lack of secure financing.  

 

"They need to commit $150,000 in escrow to ensure performance or this deal is null and void," Higgins told the board of supervisors Dec. 3 before recommending the company's startup date be extended to June 30, 2013. The new startup date is contingent upon the escrow money being available Dec. 31. 

 

Much has changed since California-based Calisolar in 2011 announced its plans to locate in the Golden Triangle, with venture capitalist John Correnti leading the pack of investors.  

 

State lawmakers awarded a $75.25 million incentive package to the company in September 2011, and the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors promised an additional $19 million in financial incentives.  

 

The original memorandum of understanding (MOU) was for what later became Silicor to operate in two phases -- a first phase silicon metals plant located on a campus south of Artesia Road behind Weyerhauser and a second phase silicon purification plant located on adjacent property currently owned by a private individual.  

 

But a few months ago, the two phases were split into separate companies. Phase one of Silicor was named Delta Silicon. Shortly thereafter, it was renamed Mississippi Silicon. Silicor Materials became the name for the phase two purification plant. A second MOU was created but neither agreement has been signed. 

 

When contacted for a comment regarding Mississippi Silicon's future, Correnti directed the call to a spokesperson for Silicor. 

 

"We appreciate the work of everyone who has supported our effort to bring our manufacturing facility and quality jobs to Mississippi, which is where we would like to be," Silicor Materials CEO Terry Jester said in a written statement. "While it has taken longer than we expected to secure financing in this difficult environment, we expect to do so in the coming months, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with local and state leaders." 

 

In July 2011, shortly before the company announced it was coming to Lowndes County, Silicor Materials, then Calisolar, pulled out of an agreement to locate in Ontario, Ohio. The U.S. Department of Energy had given the company a loan guarantee of $275 million. 

 

Spokespersons for both the Mississippi Development Authority and Gov. Phil Bryant's office said no money has been released to Mississippi Silicon or Silicor Materials at this point.

 

 

 

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