A member of the Mississippi Senate Finance Committee examines an outline for Project Atlas, an economic development plan for a tech company that intends to spend $10 billion to build two data centers in the central part of the state, at the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

by Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press

Mississippi lawmakers met in special session Thursday and quickly approved job training money and other state incentives to support a plan by Amazon Web Services to spend $10 billion to build two data centers in the central part of the state.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves had announced Wednesday that a tech company would build the centers at two sites north of the capital city of Jackson, but he withheld the company’s name until after legislators approved a $44 million incentive package. Most of the state money, $32 million, will go toward job training programs.

“Mississippi is building a business climate that is ripe for further growth, especially in the technology sector,” Reeves said Thursday. “On top of that, we’re doing what it takes to prepare our workforce to take on these high-paying, technologically advanced jobs of the future.”

Reeves said the project by Amazon’s cloud business will be the state’s largest-ever private corporate investment — four times larger than the previous record.

He said the data centers could be at least partially open by 2027. He said he expects 1,000 jobs to be created, with salaries of more than $66,000.

“This is going to have a tremendous impact on generations to come,” Appropriations Committee Vice Chair Angela Cockerham, an independent from Magnolia, told her House colleagues.

AWS already has data centers in California, Ohio, Oregon and Virginia.

The two Mississippi sites are in Madison County, Reeves said. One is a short drive from the Jackson city limit, and the other is close to a Nissan automotive manufacturing plant near Canton.

Legislators approved an incentive package with broad bipartisan support. They authorized Madison County to borrow $215.1 million from the state to pay for improvements to roads and the extension of water and sewer systems. Legislative leaders said the money will be repaid by fees the company will pay to the county in place of taxes.

Democrats in the Legislature have said the governor has failed to pursue economic development in predominantly Black areas in the western part of the state.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Josh Harkins, a Republican from Flowood, said Thursday that the data centers would be linked with another energy production project that would drive investment in several parts of the state including areas represented by Democrats.

Entergy Mississippi president and CEO Haley Fisackerly said the utility company will have solar facilities in central Mississippi’s Hinds County and in Washington and Tallahatchie counties, which are farther north. Fisackerly also said that in coming months, Entergy Mississippi will announce plans for another power generating facility.

Fisackerly said Entergy started communicating with Amazon five years ago about what Mississippi could do to attract big tech projects.

Amazon said in a news release that it has made other investments in Mississippi since 2010, including five fulfillment and sortation centers, four delivery stations, five solar farms and a wind farm.

Mississippi legislators met in special session last week and approved incentives for a factory that will manufacture batteries for electric vehicles. It will be in Marshall County, which is in the far northern end of the state near the Tennessee state line.

Front Photo: Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, center, is flanked by House Speaker Jason White, R-West, left, he answers reporters questions regarding the passage of a plan of state incentives to support a plan by Amazon Web Services to build two data centers in the central part of the state, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)