Although most legislators pledged support for HB 1, which would authorize $130 million in bonds for Japanese tire maker Yokohama, some lawmakers grumbled about the process of locating economic-development projects.
Photo by Courtesy Yokohama
A proposed tire plant in West Point, which was the focus of a special session of the Mississippi Legislature today, drew light criticism from lawmakers around the state. Although most legislators pledged support for HB 1, which would authorize $130 million in bonds for Japanese tire maker Yokohama, some lawmakers grumbled about the process of locating economic-development projects.
Gov. Phil Bryant announced the special session earlier in the week for the incentive bill, which has to go through the same committee process as any other bill. Officials said that the company considered 24 sites around the state and 3,000 sites nationwide for the $1.2 billion project.
At a Senate Finance Committee meeting, Sen. John Polk, R-Hattiesburg, pointed out that even though south Mississippi has 36 percent of the state's population, eight of the last nine large-scale economic development projects are located north of Interstate 20, including the Nissan plant in Canton and the Toyota plant near Blue Springs.
Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, echoed Polk's sentiments. "We don't receive any benefits," of those developments, he said, speaking of the Mississippi Delta.
"We need help in the Delta just as much as these other people do," Rep. Rufus Straughter, D-Belzoni, said.
Brent Christensen, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, said MDA did not choose West Point; the company did.
"We have to rely to on the entrepreneurs, the private developers to select the site," Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said.
Under the provisions of the bill, the company would not be required to pay sales tax on equipment it purchases for the plant. Any sales-tax revenue from the plant for Mississippi would be generated by sales taxes that employees pay on the goods they buy.
Officials said the plant's payroll would be around $70 million annually, and offer up to 2,000 jobs with average salaries of $35,000 per year. Construction would commence in October, and the plant will come online in early 2015, lawmakers said. The facility would also have a workforce-training center on its campus.
The House and Senate passed the bill.