/Meat processing companies targeted in ICE immigration raids awarded millions in state grants

Meat processing companies targeted in ICE immigration raids awarded millions in state grants

Mississippi offers many economic development programs for businesses. These include tax incentives, grants, loans, and grants to encourage companies to relocate or expand in the state. The ultimate goal is to create jobs in Mississippi. Melissa Scallan, spokesperson for the Mississippi Development Authority, stated that none of the food processing firms raided during the recent immigration enforcement operation — which was the largest in a decade — received traditional state tax incentives. Other incentives were given to local governments for infrastructure improvements such as road construction, water and sewer system upgrades. Sometimes the awards were returned to the state after the award was not used or the local government failed to meet certain requirements. The state has allocated close to $9 million in unutilized funds for the Koch and Peco companies over the past ten years. MDA, the state’s economic development agency, administers grants through the State’s Community Services Division, Financial Resources Division, and the federal Hurricane Katrina Community Development Block Grant. This grant is intended to help communities that were affected by the 2005 hurricane. In exchange for promises of job creation, the development authority grants grants through the federal Katrina grant and its Community Services Division to local entities. The Financial Resources Division grants go directly to businesses, but they must be sponsored by a local group, such as an economic developer. Companies can also receive similar grants from regional development agencies. According to a 2018 report, the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District submitted a grant application in 1999 for Canton. This led to $1.2million in infrastructure improvements that will support the expansion of the local Peco plant. The following is a list showing the grants that the state gave to three companies: Peco Foods, Inc., Koch Foods, and Pearl River Foods. Peco, 2008, $1.09 Million: Bay Springs was awarded a $1,093,480 Katrina grant. It spent $1,092,800 to replace “damaged and underperforming equipment” at its existing wastewater treatment plant. In return, Peco agreed to keep 550 jobs at its Bay Springs plant, which was raided in August. Peco, 2009: $1.29 Million: In exchange for 28 jobs, the town of Lake was awarded a $1.3 Katrina grant. It spent $1,289.416.26 on infrastructure improvements such as water extensions and new roads for Peco’s new feed mill. Koch, 2011, $712 327: Morton was awarded $712,500 in Community Service Division funds. He spent $712 326.78 to improve access roads owned by Koch. Koch created 36 jobs. Koch, 2014 $897,640 Morton was awarded $1.06 Million in Community Service Division funds. He spent $897.639.50 on improvements to Koch access roads. Koch created 80 jobs. Pearl River Foods 2016, $0: Leake County was awarded a $1.5million Community Service Division award to improve publicly-owned buildings and sites. However, the bids for the project were much higher than the $1.5 million, and the county couldn’t make up the difference. The county did not have the funds and Pearl River Foods funded the improvements. Peco 2018, $0: Peco’s local development agency Golden Triangle LINK was awarded a $2.5million grant to improve its building and $500,000 in “MS Works funds to train workers through the Financial Resources Division of the authority. Peco purchased a West Point warehouse to convert into storage, freezer, and cooler space. Peco was granted grants by the state in exchange for 300 jobs. However, Scallan stated that Peco was not sure it could create 300 jobs. Scallan also said that the state did not transfer the funds. According to a May 2018 article in The Columbus Dispatch, Peco was granted a decade of ad valorem tax exempts from Clay County and West Point, and a reduced rate for city water. Any funds not used are “deobligated” to the state and return to its coffers. Mississippi Today has more coverage of the recent ICE workplace raids.