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Alcoa's NC Jobs-for-license Offer, A Year Later

In Mississippi, an initial silicon metal production operation was forecast to employ 200 at $45,000 a year. A silicon metal purifying operation employing about 750 was part of a second phase. Mississippi promised $75 million in loans and grants, and Lowndes County guaranteed to lease the land and build roads and other improvements.

But the company planning the big project, Silicor Materials Inc., has missed deadlines to get started this year, said Joe Max Higgins, chief executive officer of Golden Triangle Development Link, the business recruiting agency for Lowndes and two other counties. Silicor Materials, of which Correnti is executive chairman, has had trouble concluding funding commitments, Higgins said.

Silicor Materials is facing a Dec. 31 deadline to put up $150,000 to cover Lowndes Country's expenses if the deal falls through, Higgins said. The money would be refunded if construction on the silicon metal plant gets started.

"When they're dropping the ball on Times Square, when the ball hits zero, if there's not the $150,000 deposited into our account, we will nullify the loan and incentive package" the county offered, Higgins said. "My people here don't understand: How can a guy be building a $200 million project and then have a problem with escrowing $150,000 when he's missed two critical deadlines?"

Correnti said in an interview he's willing to walk away from the Mississippi project rather than post the money.

"We're not going to put any money down on escrow. I never have on any project I've ever done. If people don't have the patience for it, so be it. That's OK," he said.

Correnti has had mixed success in Mississippi. He was instrumental in opening a steel mill in Columbus in 2007. A Russian company later bought out Correnti and other senior managers and changed its name to Severstal. Correnti also promised a steel rebar mill that hasn't materialized in Amory.

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