County Reacts to Expected Kia Announcement

Lauderdale County leaders say they did all they could to lure Korean automaker Kia to Meridian, but ultimately couldn't do enough.

Several newspapers and trade magazines are reporting the automaker will locate its first North American plant in Troupe County, Georgia.

That comes after months of speculation, and earlier confirmation by the company that Meridian was the favorite for a site location.

The state tried to lure the automaker here by using incentives available because of Hurricane Katrina, but it was apparently not enough.

"The folks here, as well as in Jackson, have done everything they can do, including Alabama, working with us to offer Kia everything we could possibly offer to lure them," said county supervisor Craig Hitt.
"And quite frankly, if the GoZone initiatives don't bring them, they're not coming to Mississippi."

Kia is expected to make an official announcement next week.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi Development Authority issued a statement from executive director Leland Speed late Friday afternoon.

"In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Gulf Opportunity Zone incentives, we have had a great deal of corporate interest in Mississippi and are actively pursuing numerous projects. However, we are more fiscally prudent than some statements to the media suggest. Mississippi Development Authority is the only agency authorized to make state incentive offers, and we have never discussed with any company state incentives approaching anything close to the $1 billion mark that have appeared in press reports.
Comparing incentives from outside a company can be difficult. For instance, many are based on tax exemptions whose value is dependent on a company’s financial situation. For example, for a state income tax exemption to have value, the company’s subsidiary in that state must be making a profit, otherwise there would be no tax liability to offset."

The statement apparently disputes an Associated Press story on Mar. 8
that stated Lowndes County developers had put together a $1 billion
incentive package trying to lure Kia. Among other things, the story said about $200 million in state incentives and $240 million in tax breaks and low-interest financing were included in the package. The article quoted Gray Swoope, chief operating officer of the Mississippi Development Authority.

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