Governor Phil Bryant is prepared to sign a bill that would provide nearly $275 million in tax breaks and incentives for a pair of economic development projects. The projects could bring thousands of jobs to Mississippi.
The Measure will provide about $263 million to Continental Tires for a new plant in Hinds County. The other $11 million will be given to a Gulfport company named Top Ship, a subsidiary of Edison Chouest based out of Louisiana. The incentives include property, franchise and income tax breaks as well as bonding for construction.
According to the Mississippi Development Authority, the two projects will create about 3,500 jobs in the state, 2,500 in Hinds County and one-thousand on the Coast. Democratic Representative Deborah Butler Dixon of Raymond says the Hinds County facility is desperately needed.
“I’m really proud that the people in my district will have some hope,” says Dixon. “We need jobs in the district. I’m proud of them listening to me because I’ve been running and running to them saying I need something in my district. I’m proud of them, at least listening and saying ‘We need something in the Central Mississippi.”
In addition to the incentives, the bill requires Continental and Top Ship to give preferential treatment to local and minority-owned contractors. However, some lawmakers felt the bill was another example of the state favoring major corporations over small businesses. Freshman Representative Joel Bomgar of Madison raised those concerns on the floor of the House to Ways and Means Committee Chair Jeff Smith of Columbus.
“As a chamber are we willing to give that exact same deal to any private, small business that’s willing to make an investment six times whatever it is we’re willing to tax and bond?” asks Bomgar?
“If you have somebody that can do this, God bless you, bring ‘em on,” reassures Smith.
Despite the concerns, Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to approve the bill. Governor Phil Bryant says he’s pleased the measure garnered so much support from lawmakers.
This is a really good opportunity for Mississippi,” Bryant says. “It’s the best economic development project we’ve ever had, not only in size but return on investment. The important part is that there will be 3,500 Mississippians that will have very good jobs for generations to come.”
State economists believe both ventures will begin returning on the state’s investment by 2024.