Gov. Tate Reeves has called a special session of the Mississippi State Legislature for Wednesday morning, seeking support for an “economic development project” in the state’s Golden Triangle region, which includes the northeastern cities of Columbus, Starkville and West Point.
In a statement, the governor’s office elaborated, explaining that the deal would include “a flat-rolled aluminum production facility, biocarbon production facilities, and certain other industrial facilities,” as well as infrastructure improvement projects.
On Monday, lawmakers appeared mostly in the dark on the topic of the sudden special session, with some admitting they’d be rescheduling plans in order to be in Jackson for the proceedings. Mississippi law only permits the governor to order a special session.
Plans Surprise Lawmakers
The governor estimated the deal would include “a $2.5 billion corporate capital investment,” and additionally claimed that the completed facility would bring 1,000 jobs to the state, providing “average salaries” of $93,000—significantly more than the state’s average income.
“Mississippi’s economy is firing on all cylinders and this game-changing investment is bringing a thousand high-paying jobs to our state,” Reeves wrote. Mississippi has the nation’s highest poverty rate and lowest workforce participation rate.
On Monday, the Columbus Dispatch reported that “An entity named Aluminum Dynamics LLC filed organizing papers with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office on Oct. 26. The registered officer of the company is Steel Dynamics Vice President and Treasurer Richard Poinsatte.” Indiana-based Steel Dynamics already maintains steel production facilities in the Golden Triangle region.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Josh Harkins, (R-Flowood) told the Mississippi Free Press in an Oct. 31 interview that he was just learning of the plans, but expressed his optimism for the coming special session.
The Legislature would likely be called on to provide incentives for the project, Harkins said. “It sounds like it’s a lot of high paying jobs, which is a great thing.” While the senator was supportive of providing incentives for the investment, he explained that part of the Legislature’s job would be to provide safeguards for the use of taxpayer money.
“We’ll have to get in there and make sure there are protections (like) clawbacks, to make sure what we’re doing is responsible.” Clawbacks and other provisions could recoup some of the state’s investment if the promised jobs do not materialize in time.
But Harkins called the opportunity a win for Mississippi. “A lot of states are vying for these jobs. We’re not the only ones doing this. When we get an opportunity like this, I think it speaks well for Mississippi. People see what we’re doing and are relocating here for positive reasons.”