Booneville plant on agenda

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Booneville will be one of three sites for plants that will convert timber products to sugars “that can be utilized as industrial byproducts,” Gov. Haley Barbour announced Wednesday afternoon.
The Republican governor is calling a special session Friday for the Legislature to consider $175 million in bonds to entice two economic development projects to the state, creating almost 1,800 jobs.
HCL Clean Tech plans on locating a company headquarters in Olive Branch, a research and development center in Grenada and “large-scale commercial plants that the company intends to locate in the Booneville, Hattiesburg and the Natchez areas.”
Barbour said HCL would create 800 jobs with an average salary of $67,000, plus benefits.
The other economic development project is slated for the Columbus area. Calisolar would produce 950 jobs with an average salary of $45,000, plus benefits.
The Barbour news release said, “Calisolar’s Columbus facility will produce silicon to be used in a number of industries, including automotive, energy (including solar panels), electronics and consumer industries.”
“Calisolar and HCL CleanTech are examples of how Mississippi has become a top site for high-tech, high-skilled manufacturing,” Barbour said. “I hope the special session will be short and productive as we continue the business of creating new, higher-paying jobs for Mississippians.”
Barbour is asking for a $75 million bond package for Calisolar, which will make a capital investment in the Columbus area of $600 million.
HCL Clean Tech is slated to make a $1 billion investment in the state if it receives the $100 million bond package from the Legislature.
House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, on Wednesday called the projects “very exciting” and said he would work for approval of the bonds.
The HCL website describes how the company had developed an environmentally friendly technology to convert biomass “to sugars that can be fermented to ethanol, or other biofuels, as well as a large variety of bio-products, food and feed” at less cost and similar quality to traditional corn mill sugar.
HCL Clean Tech started a pilot project in June 2010 at the Southern Research Institute in North Carolina.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com