Report To The People
By Tommy Reynolds
Friday, April 26, marked what we hope will be a new day in manufacturing for Mississippi when the Legislature convened in special session to consider a proposal establishing a new tire manufacturing plant in West Point.
The session was devoted to securing Yokohama Tire Corporation’s establishment in the north Mississippi area.
I was among those offered an opportunity to learn about the corporation prior to the session on Thursday evening.
The House Ways and Means Committee, on which I serve, met on Friday morning, and we were presented with the bill. It provides an initial bonding of a $70 million incentive package. The package consists of funds to purchase the land, provide public infrastructure and site preparation and invest in local workforce development.
Future bonding will consist of an additional $60 million for other phases through the coming years as the company expands. Over the course of time, this will be a $130 million investment in Yokohama Tire Corpora-tion for the state of Mississippi. Based on an analysis by the state’s economist, the principle and interest for the bonds will be paid off in 10 years.
The measure passed our committee, and was solidly approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 117 – 2. I voted in support of the bill, both in committee and on the floor.
Importantly, this project will provide Mississippi companies and Mississippi workers opportunity to help build the project. Over time, it is estimated that as many as 2,000 individuals will be employed by the corporation.
I cannot overstate the importance of encouraging projects like this for our people. We are all in this together in Mississippi, and we must do everything possible to move our state forward. The lack of employment in our rural areas of the state has been a hindrance in our state’s progress. The Sara Lee plant recently closed its Bryan Foods plant in West Point, impacting the area with a loss of upwards of 1,000 jobs. The West Point area has suffered one of the highest unemployment rates in the state at around 19 percent, and this project will surely help inject much-needed economic stimulus to the entire Golden Triangle region.
West Point’s Mayor Scott Ross is a former House colleague who spent many of his early years in Water Valley. Local West Point support for the project was an important factor in my confidence in its credibility.
Another major incentive for supporting the package was the commitment to workforce development training by our community college system.
It takes all of us pulling together to make a difference in our local towns and communities. I am convinced we must continue to seek out worthy economic development projects such as this for our people, and I am very proud to have played a part in approving this major economic development project.
During a pause in the session, we also welcomed the newest member of the House Rep. Lataisha Jackson, who was sworn in to office. She replaces Representative Joe Gardner who passed away in February.
Please contact me on these or any other issues at my local office at P. O. Drawer 280, Charleston, MS 38921 or by email at email@example.com. I can also be reached by telephone at my home (662) 473-2571. I look forward to hearing from you.