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Hyundai in Mississippi — real deal, or eminent domain rallying cry?

Jackson television station WLBT’s Bert Case may have stumbled upon a major scoop Thursday during the course of an on-camera interview with MDA interim executive director Leland Speed.

Case was asking about the eminent domain initiative that will appear on the November ballot when, apparently, Speed mentioned the possibility of South Korean automaker Hyundai building a plant in Mississippi that would produce its Sonata sedan.

I first got wind of this about 3 p.m. Friday, and I’ve been calling everybody I think might know something since.

Two folks who spoke on the condition of anonymity, and who would know if negotiations were getting serious, said the same thing: They don’t know anything, and my mention of it is the first they’ve heard of anything relating to Mississippi getting a third automotive manufacturing plant.

Speed declined further comment to Case after the slip, and there’s zero chance Gov. Haley Barbour’s office will do anything different.

If you’re a conspiracy theorist, you could reason that Speed intentionally floated the idea that Hyundai is looking at Mississippi as an example of the damage he says the restriction of the use of eminent domain for private enterprise would cause the state’s economic development efforts. I’m not saying that is or isn’t the case. I’m just saying that the few times I’ve talked with Speed about taking away the state’s power of eminent domain for economic development, he’s been vigorous in his assertion that it would take the state out of the running for mega projects like a Hyundai facility. This would be the perfect way to prove that point.

This will be worth keeping eyes and ears on.

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  1. alan goodson
    September 17th, 2011 at 10:51 | #1

    That’s right Leland. TAke away my land so you and your buddies can make a killing on the new plant to which you have an inside track .

    It’s my land. Stay the hell off it. You want it? you offer me a FAIR market price.

    They’re all thieves. And we let them do it. Why should I let them kick me off my lans under the guise of bringing “jobs” to Mississippi.

    Isn’t that what Stalin did in Russia in the 20’s? Oh, I forgot. It’s okay if the Mississippi old guard does it.

  2. Charlie Stogner
    September 20th, 2011 at 09:07 | #2

    While I’ve not talked with Leland personally about his conviction and position on eminent domain, an initiative I support, the man I know is of such integrity he would not pull any such tactic to misrepresent the public.

    I’d like to believe if Hyundai or any other major operation wants to come to our state and needs a large tract of land, it can be put together without taking it from owners without them being adequately compensated.

  3. Syd Spain
    September 20th, 2011 at 12:59 | #3

    Land for a large plant can be acquired in a way that works well for private land owners. A good example is the new Kia Plant in West Point, Georgia. No eminent domain was used, but the right person worked closely with the land owners to find reasonable prices with appropriate compromises. It resulted in land acquisition for one of the largest automotive plants in America.

  4. Steven Finch
    October 24th, 2011 at 15:32 | #4

    Looking back at the Canton Nissian plant, the land owners were offered and paid a fair market value for their land. With the exception of those families and individuals that tried to triple the price of their shantys. This ended up being close to a make or break situation and then eminent domain was utilitized. The government already must provide fair market value based on surrounding areas according to current MS Statute.

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