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.