"You can look at all sorts of companies that are in the growing stage and some of them never make it," Barbour said. "We've been very serious in making sure that the resources put in by the private sector were such that there was a good chance the business would succeed. This is the only company of this type that hasn't made it."
Barbour cut the ribbon on the Twin Creeks plant in May 2011. Twin Creeks was supposed to go into commercial production after that, but state and local officials said that never happened. There are hints, though, that the state was worried about Twin Creeks within months.
An Oct. 7, 2010 email from Twin Creeks CEO Siva Sivaram to site selection consultant Dennis Cuneo, described as a Twin Creeks senior adviser, asked Cuneo to reassure Barbour that Twin Creeks was in sound condition.
"Please let him know that we ain't going bust," Sivaram wrote, stating the company would "likely" sell out its first two years of production in advance and was close to landing $50 million more in financing.
Good Jobs First, a Washington D.C., group that questions many of the inducements that governments provide to private businesses, said Mississippi isn't the first state to lose big to an alternative energy company. Research Director Philip Mattera cited Evergreen Solar's bankruptcy in Massachusetts, after that state had given the company $31 million in grants and incentives. Advanced battery maker A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy after getting more than $125 million in tax credits and aid from Michigan.
"These things are risky and it sounds like Mississippi is paying the price for a risk that didn't work out," Mattera said. "The company was unproven and it sounds like the technology it was using was unproven. That might be a little too much risk for the public sector."
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