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VOL. 129 | NO. 41 | Friday, February 28, 2014

Miss. Lawmakers Eye Plan to Give Viking Range $12 Million

JEFF AMY | Associated Press

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – The state of Mississippi is proposing to give $12 million to Middleby Corp., the owner of Greenwood's Viking Range, to help pay for an expansion.

The House passed House Bill 1592 Wednesday.

State Rep. Linda Whittington, a Schlater Democrat, says the state would put up $12 million in return for a $20 million investment by the upscale kitchen appliance maker, mainly in new equipment. Middleby, based in Elgin, Ill., would hire 120 people and maintain 600 total jobs to get an unspecified amount of money.

State records show 175 workers were laid off by Viking since Middleby bought it for $362 million in late 2012, shattering the once-paternal image of the company. Whittington said she understands the company has about 500 employees at the factory today. Viking also employs people at the Alluvian Hotel and a cooking school in downtown Greenwood.

Sen Lydia Chassaniol, R-Winona, said she didn't think the layoffs should disqualify the company from getting state aid.

"I think it was a pure business decision," she said. "It would be an opportunity to hire back some or all of those folks."

Whittington said that as part of a meeting between Middleby and local officials in December, the company had agreed to restore some other aspects of its former civic participation, for example turning on its Christmas lights.

"I don't want to lose jobs in Greenwood," Whittington said. "Not only do we try to lure businesses here, but when businesses in the state have been established and need some help, we need some help."

The Mississippi Development Authority declined to discuss the details of the bill.

"MDA will uphold legislation that offers support to Mississippi's existing industries," is all spokeswoman Marlo Dorsey would say.

Middleby did not respond to requests for comment.

Online: House Bill 1592: http://bit.ly/N4Adol

Follow Jeff Amy at www.twitter.com/jeffamy

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 27 150 2,415
MORTGAGES 57 228 2,835
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 37 528
BUILDING PERMITS 157 441 6,509
BANKRUPTCIES 61 133 1,920
BUSINESS LICENSES 25 80 1,239
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 15 58 688
MARRIAGE LICENSES 7 34 408