Session Deadlock Continues

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

Bond money to spur some major economic development in Mississippi is held up while the House Ways and Means chairman, Percy Watson, and Gov. Haley Barbour appear locked in a turf war.

Meanwhile, area companies set to benefit from state incentive money say they'll spend substantial amounts of their own.

Pharma Pac in DeKalb manufactures cosmetics and beauty creams for various other companies. In the two years since it opened in Kemper County, the company has outgrown its present building.

The $500,000 in the economic development bill for Pharma Pac would be used to construct additional manufacturing space.

Joe Donavon, a partner in the firm, says it will be supplemented by twice as much private capital.

"We're going to put about a million dollars of company money into the expansion. We've been very happy with our operation in Kemper County. The state up to (now) has been very supportive," said Donavon. "The local politicians have been extremely supportive and the assistance they've given us has allowed us to grow and hire as many people as we have."

That would be 150 with an additional 90 hires possible if the expansion takes place.

Then there's the Tim Tek project to be built in Lauderdale County and spearheaded by Shuqualak Lumber Company in conjunction with Mississippi State University.

Company president Bill Thomas says the company also plans to invest far more money than the $10 million in startup money contained in the bill

"The overall project is going to cost approximately $140 million," said Thomas. "Approximately $115 million of it will be private capital."

Thomas says Shuqualak lumber has already leased a 230-acre site in Lauderdale County and the $10 million will be used for infrastructure, roads, site development and water and sewer services.

Thomas says failure by the Legislature to aid a development this large would send a message to business all over the country.

"I would hesitate to locate in a state that was afraid to invest in the project itself. I would say business goes where government is friendly to the industry," Thomas said.

As the Legislature struggles, east Mississippi companies watch closely.


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