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Legislators to vote on $1.2 billion West Point project


Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus

Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus



Nathan Gregory



State legislators will vote today on an incentive package that is expected to bring a $1.2 billion tire manufacturing plant to West Point and create 2,000 jobs by the time the multi-phase project is complete. 


The name of the company was not yet released at press time, but bill author Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said a manufacturer out of Japan will use private funding and $70 million in state obligation bonds to locate in Clay County to build a site that will eventually produce 1 million tires a year. 


Tire Review, a industry publication, reported that Yokohama Rubber Co. is the manufacturer considering the site. 


Rep. Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville, told the Associated Press Thursday that the company is based out of Tokyo. In addition to Yokohama, Bridgestone Corp. also has headquarters based in Japan. 


The first phase of the project, which would be tentatively scheduled to begin operation in 2015, would create at least 500 jobs, Smith said.  


Out of Mississippi's $70 million investment, approximately $10 million would be used to purchase the land, $48 million would go toward infrastructure and the remainder would fund construction of a training center, Smith said. It is not known if the project would be built on the Greater Triangle Development Link's megasite. 


"Over a 20-year period, this should bring $1.1 billion in revenue into the state of Mississippi," Smith said. "By 2017 we should be bringing in more money to the state than it cost the state (to invest)." 


Smith said 3,000 counties across the country were initially considered for a facility site before the list was narrowed to 300. The company then solicited 111 requests for proposal -- 24 of those for Mississippi counties -- before the company settled on Clay County and a site in another state as potential locations. 


Smith said terms in the bill establish a memorandum of understanding between the state and the company that 500 jobs must be created for each of the project's four phases. The average salary for the jobs is $35,000, he said. 


The legislation is said to be named after late Mississippi legislators David Gibbs and Bennie Turner, both of whom represented Clay County.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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