It seemed like a win for everyone involved. The foreign investors who plunked down at least $500,000 for the venture would get the opportunity to stay in the United States and a path to citizenship, an impoverished area of Mississippi would get some desperately needed jobs, the state would generate tax revenues, and the political leaders involved would be able to tout job-creation prowess.
Today, the place where the plant was to be remains mostly vacant except for a temporary construction trailer.
The company – GreenTech Automotive Inc. – is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the probe is reverberating well beyond Mississippi’s borders, bringing scrutiny to a Virginia gubernatorial candidate and the company run by the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“Back in 2009, it was a big deal,” said 21-year-old casino employee Perry Turner, who lives across the highway from GreenTech’s mostly empty site in rural Tunica County. “I haven’t heard much else about it.”
Some analysts say it was a risky business plan and foreign investors may have been more interested in an easy way to get a visa and a chance at citizenship than trying to support a venture that had a high chance to turn a profit or create jobs.
On that overcast day in October 2009, GreenTech’s owner, Chinese businessman Xiaolin “Charles” Wang, unveiled four prototype cars during a flashy ceremony and promised to build a $2 billon plant in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.
Besides backing from foreign investors, some 100 acres were donated by Tunica County’s economic development foundation, at a cost of $1.8 million, and in 2011 the state gave a $3 million loan toward site preparation. For a time, the company’s chairman was politically connected heavyweight Terry McAuliffe, a close adviser to both former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former Democratic national chairman and now a contender for Virginia governor.<< previous 1 2 3 4 5 next >>