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GreenTech’s MyCar dream set for reality

GreenTech Automotive is on schedule to begin production of the MyCar at the old Dover Elevator Building in Horn Lake by the end of the third quarter.

And Lyn Arnold, president and CEO of the Tunica County Chamber of Commerce, told the Mississippi Business Journal in an interview last week that she hopes an announcement related to the beginning of construction at the company’s planned Tunica facility will be made “within a couple of months.”

It’s the first tangible progress GreenTech has made since revealing plans in fall 2009 to build its electric hybrid vehicles in Mississippi.

In May 2010, GreenTech purchased Hong Kong-based EuAuto, an international firm that built the MyCar, a neighborhood electric vehicle not much bigger than a golf cart with enclosed cabins. GreenTech’s acquisition of EuAuto also marked the start of a partnership with Business Center Bornholm in Denmark.

Shortly after that, GreenTech bought the old Dover Elevator building in Horn Lake with the intentions of building the MyCar there. In January of this year, GreenTech CEO Charles Wang said he hoped production of the MyCar would start by the end of the third quarter, a timetable the company apparently still plans to meet. A GreenTech spokesperson did not respond to email and phone messages seeking comment last week.

Arnold, though, said the company had already started installing the assembly line in the Dover building. The facility in Horn Lake is one of three where the company plans to build the MyCar.

As for the Tunica plant, which GreenTech plans to build in phases with the hopes of producing its midsize and subcompact sedan and sports car model while employing 1,000 people, Arnold said site preparation work had already started. Specifically, she said GreenTech had cleared space for the facility slated for the first phase of construction, and had begun the process of setting up a drainage system and configuring an acceptable runoff system.

“They’re very close to a formal announcement (about when construction will start), but we’re not quite ready to do that just yet,” Arnold said. “I would think within a couple of months we’ll be ready, based on what’s happening today. That doesn’t take into account what happens tomorrow. A lot of times you take two steps forward and one step back, but I really think we’re making good progress.”

The estimated $1-billion cost of the Tunica facility is being paid at least in part by money raised via the EB-5 Investment Visa program, in which foreigners can obtain permanent residency status in the U.S. if they agree to invest a minimum of $1 million in an economic development project or $500,000 in a project in an economically depressed area. GreenTech has repeatedly declined to say how much of the facility’s cost will come from the EB-5 program, or if there is a private capital target that must be hit before serious steps can be taken toward getting the plant built and operational.

The EB-5 program is scheduled to sunset next September, and because it does not enjoy the expedited process of other residency programs, some applications can take a year to come to fruition. Wang said in January that GreenTech would continue to employ the program as a fundraising mechanism, and that he was confident Congress would renew it.

“They’ve worked really hard to get to this point,” Arnold said. “Charles Wang has told us that when they come back and say they’re ready to go, they’ll be ready to go. That has proven to be true.”

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