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Archive for January, 2011

Why isn’t Cawood consulting our community colleges?

January 5th, 2011 No comments

Remember Mississippi Beef Processors? A handful of Mississippi politicians certainly do.

Before Dickie Scruggs, his son and associates found themselves in federal prosecutors’ crosshairs, the rise and fall of the beef plant that cost Mississippi taxpayers $55 million and 400 jobs was the biggest political scandal in quite some time here.

Anyway, one of the executives of The Facilities Group, a Smyrna, Ga., company that managed the construction of the plant, was turned loose yesterday from his court-ordered supervision by a federal judge in North Mississippi.

Nixon Cawood was one of three Facilities Group executives who received modest prison terms for their roles in orchestrating illegal campaign contributions to former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, who they were depending on to save the deal from death once it became clear to agriculture experts that there was no market for cull cattle, or not enough of one to support the plant in Oakland.

Robert Moultrie and Charles Morehead, Cawood’s colleagues, have been released from prison within the past year, according to federal prison records.

Cawood’s appearance before District Judge Michael Mills yesterday was a lot more pleasant than his first encounter with Mills exactly two years ago. Before Mills sentenced Cawood to eight months in prison, Cawood’s attorney asked for leniency for his client, which is what attorneys are supposed to do in those situations. What made Cawood’s plea interesting, though, is that his idea of leniency included serving as a consultant to Mississippi’s community college system. It was his way of performing community service, his attorney said then.

Mills, naturally, almost laughed Cawood and his counsel out of his courtroom. Since then, Cawood has served his time and paid his fines, so the only mark he has left from the whole ordeal is a felony conviction.

Cawood apparently has since gotten a job managing a real estate firm in Georgia. Guess the consulting gig didn’t work out. Reckon why that is?

GOP speculation and 1,000 jobs in the Pine Belt (Updated)

January 4th, 2011 No comments

Magnolia Marketplace just wrapped up a phone conversation with one of our political type friends, in which we talked about two things: the supposed economic development deal Gov. Haley Barbour will announce today and who might succeed Brad White as state GOP chairman.

White announced this morning he would step down and run for Simpson County chancery clerk.

So let’s get to it.

The general consensus is that whatever deal Barbour will reveal will have something to do with Hattiesburg, and will bring somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 jobs. “I know nothing beyond that,” said our friend.

Barbour, as is his wont, is staying quiet on the issue until he’s ready to make it official.

Our source was a little more knowledgeable on the subject of the new GOP chairman. He threw out two names — former state GOP executive director Arnie Hederman and current lawmaker Phillip Gunn from Clinton.

Hederman was executive director under former chairman Jim Herring. The chairman sets policy and runs meetings, while the executive director runs the day-to-day operations. White has filled both the executive director and chairman roles since he was elected in spring 2008.

The executive commitee that will select a new chairman could opt to appoint one person to fill both seats, or split it like they did with the Hederman-Herring duo. Naturally, Barbour will have a big say in who slides into either seat, because the executive committee will defer greatly to what Barbour wants.

But with Barbour’s time as governor running out, his replacement could decide to bring in his own person, so that situation could be fluid for the next year.

Another name to keep in mind, and we have nothing but our imagination to thank for this: Hayes Dent. The Jackson lobbyist, who like Barbour is from Yazoo City, has been active in GOP politics for three decades. He knows the landscape.

So stay tuned, as they say.

UPDATED AT 10:05 A.M.: Naturally, as soon as we hit the publish button, Barbour issues a release. Here it is, in full:

Hattiesburg – Governor Haley Barbour and officials from Stion, a venture-backed manufacturer of high-efficiency, low-cost thin film solar panels, announced today the company is locating a 100-megawatt solar panel production facility in Hattiesburg, Miss. The operations will be located in the Sunbeam building. The production line is the first phase of a company investment of $500 million that will create 1,000 new jobs over the next six years.
“Today’s announcement that Stion is locating a thin film solar panel manufacturing facility in Hattiesburg is further proof that Mississippi is an ideal location for clean energy companies to locate and expand,” Governor Haley Barbour said. “I am pleased to welcome Stion to Mississippi, and I thank the company for creating so many high-quality jobs for Mississippi’s workers.”
From its Hattiesburg location, Stion will utilize its proprietary material and process expertise to produce its high-efficiency, thin film solar panels. The 110W to 120W panels are designed for use in all major applications, including commercial /government, residential, utility and off-grid and offer significant cost and performance advantages over many competing products. The company will use approximately 300,000 square feet of the Hattiesburg facility to manufacture the solar panels.
“Together, the state of Mississippi, Forrest County, and the city of Hattiesburg offer a business-friendly location with a strong resource base for manufacturing,” said Chet Farris, Stion’s president and chief executive officer. “We are pleased to partner with them to help increase domestic production of clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the local and national economy.”
The State of Mississippi is providing loan assistance totaling $75 million through the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Revolving Fund, pending approval by the Legislature. The State is
also providing clean energy tax incentives and workforce training incentives for the project. Additionally, local officials provided tax and other financial incentives to assist with the project.
“In 2010, Mississippi sought legislation to target clean energy companies, and Stion’s location in Hattiesburg is a result of this effort,” said Gray Swoope, Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) executive director. “I am excited to see Stion occupy the Sunbeam building. I know firsthand that the quality of the building coupled with the area’s workforce equals a win-win situation for the community and the company.”
Founded in 2006, Stion currently produces its highly-efficient, low-cost thin film solar panels in its state-of-the-art, 100,000-square-foot manufacturing and research and development facility in San Jose, Calif., where the company is headquartered.
To learn more about Stion, please visit the company’s website at www.stion.com.

Barbour to reveal economic development deal tomorrow?

January 3rd, 2011 No comments

It’s the first work day of the new year, and Magnolia Marketplace thought we might be able to catch Dan Turner off his guard.

We didn’t.

Reports have surfaced this afternoon that Gov. Haley Barbour will announce an economic development project Tuesday morning. So will he?

“You know we don’t comment on any economic development deal until it’s officially announced,” Turner said.

In the past month or so, we’ve heard rumors of a deal for Hattiesburg, Tupelo and all points in between, but there’s been nobody willing to put their name on it. Maybe Barbour will fill in some gaps tomorrow.

So stay tuned.