Senator: Solar company on Miss. session agenda

JACKSON — A Mississippi lawmaker said Friday’s special legislative session includes incentives to bring a California-based company to Lowndes County.

Republican Sen. Terry Brown of Columbus told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has been briefed by local development officials about plans by Calisolar to open a manufacturing plant that would create 900 jobs.

The company uses silicon to make cells that are used in energy-producing solar panels.

The Commercial Dispatch newspaper first reported Monday that there had been local speculation about Calisolar coming to Columbus, Miss.

Officials say Ohio also was competing for the Calisolar plant.

Brown told the AP that the new jobs could pay $40,000 to $50,000 a year. He said he didn’t know what kind of incentives the state will offer.

Calisolar officials did not immediately return calls to the AP on Wednesday.

Gov. Haley Barbour on Wednesday afternoon will announce specific projects to be considered during the session, which begins at 10 a.m. Friday.

Barbour said Monday that one economic development project will be on the session’s agenda, and officials were trying to finish details of another project that could be considered.

The chairman of Calisolar’s board of directors is John D. Correnti, according to the company’s website.

“I trust him with my life,” Brown said of Correnti, who was CEO of a steel mill that opened in Columbus, Miss., in 2007.

The mill originally was called SeverCorr. It was taken over by a Russian company and changed its name to Severstal. Severstal bought out the shares of SeverCorr’s senior management, including Correnti.

The state issues bonds as long-term debt to finance big projects such as construction or repair of highways or public buildings, or to provide incentives to lure companies to Mississippi.

After legislators authorize bond debt, bonds are issued by the state Bond Commission, made up of the governor, the state treasurer and the attorney general.

The commission’s next meeting is Sept. 19. Barbour said Monday that the special session is timed to come before that meeting “so that these large projects can get started this winter, if the Legislature approves them.”

Only a governor can call a special session, and he determines which issues lawmakers can consider. This will be the first special session since lawmakers wrapped up their three-month regular session in early April.

Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press