Sporting "I love West Point" stickers, a huge crowd from the golden triangle regions packed the House gallery Friday at the state Capitol to show their support for legislation to bring a huge tire plant to Clay county, with the state's highest unemployment rate, 18 percent.
The county lost 2,000 jobs a few years ago after the Sara Lee Bryan meat plant shut down.
Two thousand new jobs could be created once Japanese tire-maker Yokohama's manufacturing facility gets up and running.
The plant will manufacture truck tires
Friday lawmakers approved a $70 million deal for the company in a special session of the legislature.
West Point schools superintendent Burnell McDonald hopes the jobs, that will pay $35,000 a year, will encourage local high school graduates to stay in the community, instead of leaving and looking elsewhere for work.
The state's investment to purchase land, build infrastructure and train workers, comes with strings attached.
The legislation includes "clawback provisions," which enables the state to take back tax dollars invested in the project if the company doesn't live up to its end of the deal.
Other contributions would be $12 million from local governments, $1 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission, $900,000 from the Tennessee Valley Authority and $590,000 from Atmos Energy.
In a tribute to the Rep. David Gibbs and Sen. Bennie Turner, who both recently passed away, both of whom represented West Point in the legislature, the bill is named in their honor.
Construction of the first phase of the four phase project could begin this fall.
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