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Musgrove defends Nissan incentives

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Dec. 20, 2000
Responding to indications some state lawmakers feel Nissan is getting too good of a ride with a $295 million incentive package, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove said Tuesday the package was an essential element of the deal.
Reports have surfaced in the last week indicating some legislators felt manipulated when Musgrove pushed the incentive proposal through in a special session he called for the day before the presidential election in November. Lawmakers had little time for analysis and some even privately questioned if Musgrove had been a little too generous in his deal-making.
Musgrove's administration has also been criticized by media outlets for not responding more quickly to requests to disclose details of the state's agreement with Nissan  after it was endorsed by the Legislature. The Associated Press and other media organizations filed requests through the Public Records Act to obtain documents from the Mississippi Development Authority, the state's economic development arm.
An examination of the incentives package shows the state's generosity. Among other items, the state will furnish $5 million in bonds for advertising and marketing, pay for Nissan executives' air fare to and from Jackson, and pay up to $10 million for any damages to the plant caused by shifts in the Yazoo Clay that underlies much of Madison County.
Despite the report, Musgrove said Nissan is a solid investment.
According to Musgrove, the plant's 4,000 jobs are only one of the benefits to the state.
The plant in Madison County is scheduled to start operation in 2003.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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