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Silicor eyeing sites other than Lowndes County for facility

Silicor Materials, which used to be Calisolar, said in a press release Monday morning that it still wants to build a facility in Mississippi.

It won’t be in Lowndes County, though. The company missed a Dec. 31 deadline to put $150,000 into escrow that would have kept it eligible for tax incentives Lowndes County had approved for the plant to produce silicon for use in solar panels.

In a special session in September 2011, lawmakers approved a $75 million incentive package for the company, known then as Calisolar, including $59.5 million for construction of the facility and equipment to put in it, $11 million for infrastructure and $4.5 million for workforce training. Lowndes County also pledged $19 million. None of that money has actually been spent, though, because it was contingent upon Silicor breaking ground on its facility and reaching other milestones afterward. The company never reached those milestones because it was unable to secure financing for the project.

Lowndes County supervisor Harry Sanders told the Mississippi Business Journal last month the county had done infrastructure upgrades to the site, but that work had been planned before Silicor made it known it was interested in it.

The project would have represented a $200 million investment by Silicor, which planned to employ almost 1,000 people at the facility once it opened.

Silicor CEO Terry Jester said that the company would look around Mississippi for a site. “We are committed to building our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Mississippi, and we look forward to increasing economic opportunity in the state,” he said in a statement. Silicor said a site other than Lowndes County would “allow us to maximize our company’s mission,” adding that potential investors have already visited the state.

The company would likely need from whatever county it selects help similar to what Lowndes County promised.

Officials in that chosen county will probably share Lowndes County’s wariness of the company’s inability to secure private financing, and will likely attach the same conditions to any kind of incentives.

Silicor does still have a friend in the Mississippi Senate, though.

“Silicor Materials, its executive chairman, John Correnti, and many others, have been working tirelessly to create jobs here in Mississippi – these projects take time, especially in these challenging economic times,” Senate Pro Tem Terry Brown, a Republican whose district includes the Lowndes County Silicor site, said in the company’s press release. “Mr. Correnti has been a champion of jobs and economic development in Mississippi, having led the successful effort to bring hundreds of high-paying jobs to our state, and we fully support him and his colleagues in doing it again.”

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  1. Ed Clynch
    January 9th, 2013 at 09:27 | #1

    Correnti is a fast talker who fails to deliver. The MBJ needs to send out the article that appears last Sunday in the Columbus Dispatch.

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