Officials seek funds for Mississippi River Corporation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NATCHEZ — Mississippi River Corporation’s Vice President George Matthews and Adams County officials are in Washington, D.C., this week seeking financial assistance for MRC.

Matthews, Adams County Supervisor Darryl Grennell and Adams County Chancery Clerk Tommy O’Beirne met with several congressmen Tuesday and plan to continue meeting today in an effort to secure financial assistance for the company.

Over the past several weeks county and city officials have met multiple times in executive session to discuss MRC’s need for assistance.

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Matthews said while no deals or commitments have been finalized, he’s willing to meet with any party able to offer assistance to the company.

“It’s all very preliminary at this point,” Matthews said.

Matthews said he’s pursuing state assistance, from the Mississippi Development Authority, and federal assistance to keep the company growing.

“This economy has been devastating to the paper industry,” Matthews said of his business, which makes recycled paper pulp, which is then made into paper products. “It’s a difficult time.”

MRC currently employees 65 workers, and Matthews is focused on keeping each one of them and hopes to grow the company.

“We need to survive this,” Matthews said of the economic downturn.

And while MRC needs cash, with approximately $13 million in debt, Matthews will take any help he can get.

“We’re (in Washington) looking for any assistance,” he said.

But that assistance may not be in the form of financial aid.

Matthews said he’s even open to ideas on how to run the company more efficiently.

Tuesday evening Grennell said he believed the day’s meetings had been productive and would hopefully yield some benefit for MRC.

“If there are resources here that can help this endeavor, that we may not know about, then we need to be here working to see what’s available,” Grennell said.

And after a day of meeting with congressmen, several congressional staff members have now been directed to explore the funding availability for MRC, Grennell said.

Grennell said the meetings also offer those in Washington an opportunity to see what’s happening inside Adams County they would not ordinarily have.

Grennell said after meeting with Representative Gregg Harper, Harper actually thanked the group for the insight into what’s happening in Adams County and directed his staffers to find ways to assist MRC.

“(Harper) said ‘We cannot afford to lose any more industry in Southwest Mississippi,’” Grennell said. “I think we’ll see some good from this trip.”