The front of the State Capitol can be seen in Jackson, Miss., Monday, March 14, 2022. Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today

Gov. Tate Reeves on Monday announced he was calling lawmakers into special session Wednesday to approve incentives for what he called the largest economic development project in state history.

Reeves posted on social media: “Biggest economic development project in MS history coming to Golden Triangle: $2.5 billion capital investment (Nearly 2X larger than previous CapEx record), 1000 jobs, $93,000 average salary.”

Reeves did not name the company, but in a release said it includes a flat-rolled aluminum plant, “biocarbon production facilities and other industrial facilities” in the Golden Triangle area of the state, which spans from Starkville to West Point to Columbus.

Sources familiar with the project say it will be a major expansion of an aluminum or steel company already located in the Columbus area. The Legislature will be asked to provide between $150 million and $160 million in incentives to help with the construction of the plant.

Over the summer, Steel Dynamics, which has a plant in Columbus, announced it was planning to build three large facilities in North America to supply the automotive and packaging industries with recycled aluminum materials. In July, the company said it planned to build a flat-rolled aluminum mill in the Southeast as part of the expansion.

Typically, major economic development projects require legislative approval when the state spends large amounts of tax dollars on incentives — such as for infrastructure or on tax breaks.

Normally the Legislature issues debt to help with infrastructure needs for major economic development projects. But there most likely will be consideration of paying for the incentives with existing revenue instead of issuing bonds to be paid off over multiple years. The state currently has more than $2 billion in surplus revenue thanks in part to strong economic activity and influx of billions of federal dollars after the COVID-19 pandemic,

Reeves said he had briefed Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn and other legislative leaders on the development and that he is “Looking forward to full legislative bodies taking swift action for what could be a 1-day session.”

Hosemann on Monday said: “We are in the process of contacting senators to make sure they are available for Wednesday’s special session. Initial review of the summaries show this project will have a positive impact on the State.”

“Our team also continues to work on the other issues the Legislature will face in the Regular Session,” Hosemann said.

Reeves last week, at a speech at the state chamber of commerce’s annual “Hobnob” hinted at a major economic development project. He said that Mississippi has seen $3.5 billion in new capital investments in the state so far in 2022 and, “I’ve got a pretty good inkling it’s going to go a lot higher between now and Dec. 31.”

“It is an economic development project somewhere in northeast Mississippi,” said Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, the House minority leader. “I wish I could tell you more.”

Members of the Lowndes County legislative delegation were scheduled to meet with economic developers from the area later Monday.

“It is huge,” said Rep. Kabir Karriem, a Democrat who represents portions of Lowndes County.

House Ways and Means Chair Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, who most likely will handle the incentive package in the special session, said, “I am looking forward to adding jobs to the Mississippi economy.”

Other lawmakers appeared to know scant details.

“I heard this morning that there may be a special session,” said Rep. Manly Barton, R-Moss Point. “Economic development, that’s what I heard, but I haven’t heard anything else at this point.”

Johnson said it is great that an economic development project is coming to northeast Mississippi but said the Legislature should be doing more to help other areas of the state.

“You have the Greenwood hospital about to close in the Delta,” he said. “You have the water issues in Jackson.”

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.

Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.