April 25, 2013 10:38:42 AM
Specifics on an incentive package designed to bring an automotive parts manufacturing plant to Mississippi remains under wraps, but a time and date for state leaders to meet and discuss the project was made public Wednesday after governor Phil Bryant called for a special session.
Lawmakers will convene at the Capitol in Jackson at 10 a.m. Friday for what has been linked to an international company's interest in locating a tire manufacturing plant in a 1,000 acre megasite in West Point.
In a release, Bryant said the economic development package would bring needed jobs to the state.
"This is an exciting project and a great testament to the quality of our workforce," Bryant said.
Terms as written in the proposed act would allow for state general obligation bonds to be issued to fund the project and also contains language providing income tax exemptions to the company for up to 20 years. Five years would be added to that if the business creates at least 1,000 jobs in 10 years.
Mississippi Department of Employment Security statistics released Wednesday indicated Clay County had the highest unemployment rate out of the state's 82 counties this past March at 18.2 percent. That was double the state-wide average of 8.7.
Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves also issued a statement Wednesday showing his support for the project.
"In this difficult and fragile economy, creating an environment that encourages job creation has been our No. 1 priority," Reeves said. "Gov. Bryant and our team at (Mississippi Development Authority) have worked closely with us throughout this competitive process, and I anticipate the Senate will be eager to pass the proposed incentives."
The state has two auto manufacturing plants -- Toyota outside of Blue Springs and Nissan in Canton. West Point is located in between those two areas -- approximately 125 miles northeast of Canton and about 75 miles southeast of Blue Springs. During an unrelated engagement Monday in Oxford, Bryant initially announced his plans to call a session related to the state's "auto corridor."
Sen. Terry Brown, R-Columbus, said he was hopeful the legislation would pass easily, but was not sure from discussions he had with colleagues how many jobs could be created if it does.
"It's looking great," he said. "If everything happens as we anticipate, we should have a package signed, sealed and delivered by 3 p.m. Anything can pop up but I don't anticipate any problem."
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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