Yokohama contractor to be named at end of month

May 23, 2013 10:41:20 AM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


Plans remain on track for workers to break ground in September on the first phase of Clay County's Yokohama tire manufacturing plant, Golden Triangle Development Link CEO Joe Max Higgins told the Link's board of directors Wednesday. Higgins added company representatives are selecting a general contractor by the end of this month. 


The Mississippi House and Senate cleared the way for the plant last month when they passed a $130 million economic incentives package to bring Tokyo-based Yokohama Rubber Company to the 1,100-acre Prairie Belt Powersite northeast of West Point. 


The first part of the four-phase project is slated to begin operations in 2015 and the plant is expected to be running at full capacity by 2023. More than 500 jobs are expected to be created in the project's first phase and more than 1,500 additional jobs are expected to be created once all phases are complete. Yokohama will invest $1.2 billion -- $300 million for each phase. 


The incentives package includes the issuance of a $70 million obligation bond to fund infrastructure and site preparation necessary to support the project. 


"Moving forward ... there's stuff going on now, it's just stuff you don't see," Higgins said. "We're designing the roads, doing environmental (studies). The bonds are being issued ... and the (American Land Title Association) survey is being done. When (Yokohama reps) went on a nationwide search for the site, they also went on a worldwide search for the construction companies. When we went to Japan and interviewed with them, the construction companies went and interviewed with them." 


Once a contractor is selected, site design will take approximately three months before a groundbreaking in September and the beginning of construction in October. 


"There will be more work going on," Higgins said. "The neat thing I think everybody should be concerned about in a good way is this is going to open up tremendous opportunities for West Point going forward. (In) June, July and August ... that's the design (phase). Layout, orientation ... put this here, put this there, coordinate roads and water tanks ... then we start building. We figure 18 months to build. In September, you may go out there to a ceremonial groundbreaking ... and there may already be a pad screened off. 


"Once they staff up and get moving, that's where it's incumbent on us to make a good showing, because when we do that, they start talking about phase two. It takes about two years to build and about a year to staff up and then we start talking about phase three. How West Point receives and handles this will be directly responsible for how much expansion they get." 


The second and third phases are slated to begin operation in 2017 and 2019, respectively.  


State law allowing the issuance of bonds to support the project was named after late legislators Bennie Turner and David Gibbs, both of whom represented portions of Clay County.

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.