Supervisors discuss economic development

Published 12:04 am Saturday, March 9, 2013

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors met behind closed doors for approximately 45 minutes Friday to discuss economic development.

The meeting, which included discussion with Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ and President Sue Stedman, was conducted in executive session because the discussion pertained to economic prospects and the acquisition of property, Board Attorney Scott Slover said.

After the meeting, Russ said he could not discuss what the prospect or the property might be.

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“We have a long-term interest in seeing more industrial properties being available for for Natchez Inc. to market and sell,” Russ said. “There have and continues to be a dialogue regarding that, but at this point that is really the statement I have got to say.”

Much of the county’s existing industrial property has been taken, though Rentech recently announced its intention to sell the former International Paper site that Rentech acquired in mid-2008. The supervisors this week also discussed the possibility of approaching International Paper and asking the company to donate its remaining property — the former wood yard on Lower Woodville Road — for economic development purposes in exchange for tax credits.

The supervisors also met briefly in open session, during which they amended a resolution the board had previously adopted. The resolution will be forwarded to the state legislature.

The amended resolution is in support of legislation that would reduce the state severance tax for horizontal drilling in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale formation to 0 percent for 30 months. The county’s share of the severance tax would be reduced to 1.25 percent.

The previous version of the resolution had the state receiving 0 percent and the county receiving 1 percent for 36 months.

Russ has previously said that the goal of the legislation is to entice more oil exploration in Mississippi and to make the state more competitive with its neighbors.

Because the legislation has statewide implications, the amended resolution was taken to the board after input from other counties and industrial stakeholders, Russ said.

Oil companies have known of the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale for many years, but only recently has the technology become available for companies to tap directly into the shale — which serves as the source bed for oil deposits in southwest Mississippi — rather than having to drill through it to the deposits below.