By Jennifer Lenain/Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Mississippi legislators on Friday approved the new economic development project that will bring a tire manufacturing plant to West Point.
Earlier this week Gov. Phil Bryant called an economic special session that brought legislators to Jackson Friday to vote on an economic development project.
“It’s pretty exciting to see the whole overview of the project,” District 47 Senator Tony Smith said.
“Yokohama Tire Company is investing $1.2 billion in this state of the art tire manufacturing plant,” he said. “They have been in business for 90 years and have more than 17,000 employees worldwide.”
Smith said local legislators are pushing to get more projects in the southern region, “We did question why South Mississippi seems to not be getting these projects.”
“There are 36 counties below I-20 and that’s 41-percent of the state’s population below that line.”
“We get asked a lot why companies are where they are,” House and Means Committee Chair Mark Formby said. “Reality is, they (companies) pick the sites and we try to get them to focus on Mississippi.”
Formby said he was most impressed with the initial number of counties that were looked at to house the plant, which was over 3,000. “In the process of looking, we ultimately had about 20 counties that had potential.”
“I think unemployment was a factor and workforce availability always comes into play,” he said.
“Ultimately, it helps Mississippians,” he said. “Stennis Space Center is good for Tishomingo County, just like the plant in Canton is good for Pearl River County.”
“The state will be providing $130 million in bonds to pay for land and infrastructure,” Smith said. “As for the return on investment, we will get principal plus interest in a ten-year period.”
“The project is expected to create 2,000 jobs,” he said. “There are four phases and each phase will create 500 jobs.”
“It will have a $1.1 billion impact on our state over the next 20 years,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Herb Frierson said. “It is going to provide a considerable amount of tax revenue.”
According to the Associated Press the company could receive more than $300 million worth of incentives. Contributions to the company are reported to be $12 million from West Point and Clay County, $1 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission, $900,000 from the Tennessee Valley Authority and $590,000 from Atmos Energy.
The first phase of the project is projected to be completed in 2015.
State and local officials along with Yokohama Tire Corporation will host on Monday an official announcement event in West Point at The Ritz Theater and Conference Center at 10:30 a.m.