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Silicor future uncertain as deadline passes

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — Lowndes County's leading economic development official says a project involving Silicor Materials is dead.

Golden Triangle Development Link CEO Joe Max Higgins tells WCBI-TV in Columbus that the company missed its deadline to put up $150,000 to secure land and incentives. Higgins says the money was refundable to ensure that they start construction by June 30 of 2013.

The Silicor plant was initially forecast to employ 200. An additional phase of the project — a silicon metal purifying operation — was expected to provide 750 jobs.

State officials pledged $75 million in loans and grants, and Lowndes County guaranteed to lease the land and build roads and other improvements. The total incentive package was more than $90 million.

Silicor Materials and Silicon Metal both were given deadlines by the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors of December 31, 2012 to put up good faith money. Silicor was to put up $50,000 in escrow to extend an option on its site for an additional year. Higgins said Silicor officials told the county in a letter that they could not pay the money to secure the 150 acre site.

"While we did hear from Silicor we did not after multiple attempts hear anything from Silicon Metal Plant regarding the $150,000. So those incentives have gone away and the sites availability has gone away for that project," Higgins said.

Higgins said with Silicor out, the industrial park site now has plenty of capacity to handle major projects that will need electricity and sewer.

"The freeing up of excess of 100 megawatts of power in the park is huge. The freeing up of the sewer is huge and they have literally been standing there with our capacity in their hand committed to them and we have not been able to submit on other projects," he said.

Higgins said that in the future officials plan to see how strong a company's financial capacity is before getting too far into any deal.

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Information from: WCBI-TV, http://www.wcbi.com

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