By STEVEN NALLEY
The Mississippi Legislature approved an incentive package which could create almost 4,800 jobs in the state, including 951 full-time jobs at a new Calisolar plant in Columbus, late Friday.
Legislators met for almost eight hours Friday after the incentive package was stalled over additional bonds to study minority contractors.
Earlier in the day, the House approved a version of the bill, adding $2 million in bonds for the study to $175 million in incentive packages for solar silicon company Calisolar and industrial bioproduct company HCL CleanTech. In that vote, 113 representatives were in favor, with three against, one present, one not voting and four absent.
The Senate then held a committee meeting to amend the study out of the bill, passed the amendment unanimously and sent it back to the House for consideration.
The House agreed to the Sentateâ€™s version by a 109-4 margin.
Headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., Calisolar uses silicon to make cells for solar panels. A Wednesday press release from Gov. Haley Barbour said Calisolarâ€™s silicon would also be available for the electronics, automotive, energy and consumer industries.
According to the release, Calisolarâ€™s 951 jobs would carry an average salary of $45,000 plus benefits. Calisolarâ€™s incentive package is $75 million, with plans to bring $600 million in capital investment to Columbus.
HCL CleanTech converts biomass into sugars for use as industrial bioproducts. According to the governorâ€™s press release, CleanTech plans to establish headquarters in Olive Branch; three large commercial plants in Booneville, Hattiesburg and Natchez; and a smaller commercial facility and research center in Grenada.
The result, the release says, will be 800 more jobs in Mississippi, paying an average of $67,000 plus benefits. The incentive package for HCL CleanTech is $100 million.
An existing tax rebate program was also expanded by lawmakers, which will help Huntington Ingalls add 3,000 shipbuilding jobs on the coast.
News Editor Carl Smith contributed to this report.