Lawmakers adopt incentives for manufacturer in Clay County

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Legislators worked quickly Friday to pass an incentive package that will entice a Japanese tire manufacturer to Clay County.

It is scheduled to be open by 2015 employing 500 people in its initial stage.

The company, which eventually could employ 2,000 people, is Yokohama and will produce tires for commercial vehicles at the site just northeast of West Point.

Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, and Brian Aldridge, R-Tupelo, tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to provide some of the same incentives to Cooper Tire in Tupelo that Yokohama will get in Clay County. The House voted down that proposal after Ways and Means Chair Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, urged members to wait until a later date to take up Cooper’s needs when more was known about them.

Holland and Aldridge tried to provide Cooper an exemption on the sales tax on the purchase of equipment.

“I can tell you with mathematical certainty that Cooper wants to relocate its headquarters” from Ohio to Tupelo, Holland said.

Kathy Gelston, the chief financial officer for the Mississippi Development Authority, told Holland and others during Friday morning’s meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee that her agency knew of issues facing Cooper and there might be a later special session to deal with the Lee County employer.

Cooper employs about 1,600 in Lee County.

As far as the package for Yokohama, legislators were told Friday morning it would be $70 million in bonds during the first stage for infrastructure, jobs training and land purchase.

An additional $60 million in bonds are planned in installments of $20 million million with a commitment of 500 additional jobs for each installment for an eventual total of 2,000 jobs by 2023.

The incentive package also would include income tax breaks on its employees for at least 20 years and local property tax breaks.

The local governments, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Appalachian Regional Commission also are providing incentives to entice the manufacturer to Clay County.

Gelston said the company is committed to annual salary of $35,000 for its employees and is committed to an investment of about $1.2 billion.

Smith, R-Columbus, said studies indicate the state “would be in the black” on the investment within two years of the start of the start of operation.

More on this story later today.

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