Forgetting the multi-million-dollar AlphaGen boondoggle of 2011 is a wish some current and former officials no doubt have.

Since no jobs were ever created, the city of Philadelphia has to repay a $1 million Mississippi Development Authority grant.

After a decade of negotiations, the city is dipping into reserves to write a check for $750,000 to cover the failed project promoted under President Obama’s green initiative.

This as a then-newly-elected black mayor shuttled between Philadelphia and Washington courted by everyone under the sun with promises of economic salvation for our area.

In March 2011, a $1 million Community Development Block Grant was awarded to make improvements to the old U.S. Motors building where AlphaGen was to operate and create 200 jobs.

AlphaGen was billed as a total $10 million investment that would manufacture polymer ceramic coatings for industrial applications, infrastructure repair and clean energy.

In the end, AlphaGen was a failed economic development disaster that the city and county leadership had eagerly endorsed. 

AlphaGen in December 2015 suddenly terminated its lease and skipped town, although they never really arrived.

The city has not been eligible for state grants since failing to create the 200 jobs.

Readers may recall the picture of local officials standing around the AlphaGen sign in front of the old U.S. Motors building — later arguing how their names appeared or didn’t appear.

Then-Alderman-at-Large Janice Payne at a meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen demanded “respect and professionalism” for the people who have “really worked for this industry.”



Concerns were expressed that the Mississippi Development Authority was listed on the sign simply as “MDA.”

Aldermen insisted that the Board of Supervisors be listed by name on the sign along with David Vowell, president of the Community Development Partnership.

“Things need to be spelled out,” Payne demanded.

Yes, things do indeed need to be spelled out. AlphaGen sums up economic development in Philadelphia and Neshoba County the last two decades as jobs and people have left. A new Choctaw Indian Chief seems to be our only economic development hope.

“That money was for a rainy day and this was certainly a rainy day,” Mayor James A. Young said of a CD officials cashed in to pay the MDA debt. “This is almost 10 years in the making.”  A rainy day fund is not for boondoggles and why did it take 10 years?

This repayment comes as the mayor and all but one alderman granted themselves pay raises and have raised taxes so many times we’ve lost count.

AlphaGen is proof there is no economic development strategy. They’ve spent a decade trying to clean up a mess of their own making when $750,000 could have been spent on hiring someone to create jobs.

The true cost of AlphaGen is not known. The city paid for work and repaid MDA.

There are many, many good things to say about our community and the good people. We can count our many blessings without being Pollyannish and pointing to what the beautification committee has done all-the-while ignoring the elephant in the room — the need for more better-paying jobs.

We want young people to be able to find good jobs and stay here in Neshoba County and raise a family, but few leaders seem to be working toward that goal under the current setup that gave us AlphaGen.