By Amy McCullough
For several weeks now the Mississippi Business Journal has been interested in Mississippi’s new role as a venture capitalist in the green energy sector (Soladigm, Stion and KIOR) and the risk that poses to taxpayers.
The Wall Street Journal got Gov. Haley Barbour’s take on the matter at the recent WSJ-hosted ECO:nomics summit in California: (or click here for video)
WSJ’s STRASSEL: “Venture capitalists have talked about how they have come to view these industries differently over the past few years. It’s not the same as funding a Silicon Valley start-up. These are often very expensive projects, there can be very long lead times, it’s not for certain that these processes will pan out. That is a much bigger risk the state is making with taxpayer dollars than it would be luring an automotive company.”
GOV. BARBOUR: “We are taking risks just like these VC people are taking risks or other investors or bank lenders. We just have to make sure that we align our risk appropriately. Most of our renewable-energy projects, what we are doing for them is debt. We are lending them money to build their building, buy their equipment.
“I keep telling my people, never forget we are not investment bankers. So who else has got skin in the game and how much? Who has got as much to lose as we do? And we walk away from deals because there are people who want to have no equity in the deal, who don’t want to put up anything. That’s not fair to our taxpayers.”