Special session okays deal sweetener

Lawmakers worked swiftly Friday during a special session to push through a multimillion-dollar  incentive package aimed at luring a new plant and hundreds of jobs to Lowndes County.

No one is saying publicly what the company is, but an announcement is expected later.

"This is a Fortune 200 company," said Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Robertson, R-Moss Point. "They are going to initially have 500 jobs."

The Senate approved the $48.4 million incentive package after the bills breezed through the Finance Committee. Action was pending in the House.

Robertson said $10 million from Lowndes County would be used to pay the loan taken out by the Industrial Development Authority. Another $1.8 million will be "reimbursement" for electrical infrastructure and other utilities.

The only company being mentioned is PACCAR of Bellevue, Wash., the maker of Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks. The publicly traded company announced in January plans to build an engine-manufacturing plant somewhere in the Southeast.

Lowndes County officials pledged $15 million toward improvements at a site being promoted for a new plant. The bills also allow the county to issue bonds and use imminent domain to obtain property for the plant.

Gov. Haley Barbour said Wednesday the plant would have an estimated payroll of $18 million. Production could start by 2010.

The state portion of the project includes onsite improvements on roads, site preparation and the extension of water and wastewater services, as well as offsite items like infrastructure and work force training.