Mississippi lawmakers on Thursday gave broad, bipartisan approval to state incentives for a factory that will manufacture batteries for electric vehicles — a project that promises 2,000 jobs with an average salary of about $66,000.
After legislators voted, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves named the four companies involved. Accelera by Cummins, Daimler Truck and PACCAR, which manufacture big trucks, will each own 30% of the project. A China-based lithium battery maker, EVE Energy Co., Ltd., will own 10%.
The companies intend to invest about $1.9 billion for the plant in Marshall County, near the Tennessee state line, and it would be the second-largest corporate investment in Mississippi history, Reeves said.
GOV. REEVES SWORN IN FOR SECOND TERM AFTER UNDERWHELMING ELECTION WIN IN DEEP-RED MISSISSIPPI
“For far too many years, technology was developed in the United States, and that technology was taken to China and manufactured in China,” Reeves said during a news conference in the state Capitol. “The reality is, we need to bring jobs back to America.”
U.S. manufacturing of EV batteries is accelerating as automakers transition to electric vehicles. The Inflation Reduction Act offers $7,500 in tax credits for consumers purchasing EVs, but only if the vehicles and batteries are assembled in North America and include minerals mined or processed domestically.
The U.S. Treasury Department must approve plans for the plant in Mississippi, said Republican Rep. Trey Lamar of Senatobia, chairman of the state House Ways and Means Committee.
“We are living in a global economy,” Lamar said during Thursday’s special legislative session. “The fact that we have companies that may be coming from outside of the United States to invest and provide jobs to Americans is a good thing.”
The state incentive package amounts to about $365 million, which includes costs of site development at the Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park.
The House rejected two proposals by Democratic Rep. Robert Johnson of Natchez — one that would have required the plant to hire 70% of its employees from Mississippi and one that would have required the plant to invest in other projects to benefit Marshall County.
Even though Democrats voted for the incentives, the party’s legislative leaders criticized Republican leaders for ramming the deal through in a one-day special session. They also said the state has steered economic development projects only toward areas represented by Republicans.
Reeves thanked Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker for helping Mississippi win the project over other states.
“Cutting the bureaucratic red tape was a huge challenge, but knowing it is going to change thousands of lives made the fight worth it,” Wicker said in a statement. “This project is an investment in our people and proof our state is worth investing in.”
If the plant comes to fruition, it will add to a list of similar facilities materializing around the country.
Ford is building EV battery plants in Kentucky and Tennessee, each through a joint venture with battery partner SK On, of South Korea. Georgia has offered lucrative tax incentives in an effort to become a Southern hub for EV manufacturing, and at a site near Savannah, Hyundai is building its first U.S. factory devoted solely to EV production.
ExxonMobil announced in November that it would drill for lithium in southern Arkansas, with the oil giant expected to begin production of the critical material for electric vehicles by 2027.
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