New jobs in store for region?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2010

NATCHEZ — Gov. Haley Barbour is expected to announce details today about a $500 million biofuels project, and local legislators are hoping the announcement will include the words “Southwest Mississippi.”

Barbour is set to release more information at 2 p.m. today.

His office has not disclosed the name of the biofuels company or provided any details about the company’s location.

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Barbour said in a news release earlier this week that the project would generate $85 million in wages and purchasing inside Mississippi and would create 1,000 jobs through the company and suppliers.

The company would use timber to make fuel.

Sen. Bob Dearing, who represents Adams, Amite, Franklin and Pike counties, said Thursday that he’s hopeful the news could be good for the area.

“The governor told me in the first year of his term that he would do anything he could to bring economic development to Southwest Mississippi, and I hope this could be it,” Dearing said.

Rep. Sam Mims, who represents Adams, Amite, Franklin, Lawrence, Pike and Walthall counties, shares Dearing’s hope.

“I have continued to convey our strengths of natural resources from Southwest Mississippi to the governor’s office, lieutenant governor’s office and the Mississippi Economic Development Authority,” Mims said. “And I think it is a great asset to use those resources.”

The governor has called a special session, which will start Friday, for legislators to consider, among other things, $50 million in state incentives for the project.

He is seeking $45 million in bond money, plus tax breaks, for the company. The appropriation would include $4 million for related workforce training and $1 million for research to be conducted at Mississippi State University.