State Repays Lowndes for Money Spent on Industry

LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) — Lowndes County and two of its economic development partners are being paid back for the work they invested in an industrial project that has now locating somewhere else in the state.

Golden Triangle Development Link CEO Joe Higgins told supervisors Monday the state has agreed to pay the county more than $69,300, $86,024 to the industrial development authority and $82,653 to 4-County Electric for work done in 2011 and 2012 on what is now Mississippi Silicon.

The company announced last week it planned to build a scaled down operation at the Yellow Creek Port on the Tenn-Tom Waterway in Burnsville in Tishomingo County.

The company plans a $200 million investment and will create 200 jobs. Brazil-based Rima Holdings is the primary partner in the project. Higgins told supervisors he thinks the project may have a chance in Burnsville if investors can finalize financing and planning.

The original plans in Lowndes County called for $600 million investment and more than 900 jobs in two phases, including a silicon purifying operation. So far, Mississippi Silicon has only announced the 200 jobs and Burnsville but say more could be coming in the future if it pursues the purifying facility there as well.

Higgins says his confidence is based on Rima’s experience in the silicon industry and the veteran manager hired to oversee the operation. But he says he has his doubts about the viability of the larger second phase.

There’s no word yet on when construction might begin but the plant will take as much as 20 months to build.

Lowndes officials ended talks with the company at the end of 2012 when it refused to put up $150,000 to cover the county’s expenses while the start-up company continued to work out financing. The Link, 4-County and others already had spent almost two years working with the company, doing environmental work on two sites in the Lowndes County industrial park, and working with financial institutions.

After several deadlines were missed and the company sought another extension , the county asked for the escrow money. When that fell through, talks ended but the state, which already had promised $75 million in incentives, continued to work with investors to find another location in the state.

Higgins and other Lowndes officials complained to the state that the county had done everything right and was being penalized by the company’s unwillingness to cover basic costs.

The $238,000, which will come out of the reduced incentives the state is now giving the company for the Burnsville project, is the state’s way of repaying the county.

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