Thursday, May 17, 2007
Toyota talk everywhere
A couple of weekends ago I passed through Blue Springs on my way to and from Alabama. And there’s the sign - “Future Site of Toyota Mississippi.”
On the way back to Marshall County, I measured the miles via my vehicle. First, it’s 23 miles to the Benton County line and Hickory Flat. It’s 31 miles to the Marshall County line and Potts Camp, and it’s 42 miles to the first Holly Springs exit on Highway 78 (Future I-22). That means it’s about 60 miles to Byhalia.
That’s a drive of 30 minutes or so to our county from the plant, which will employ at least 2,000 people when it begins producing Highlander SUVs, probably in late 2009.
I overheard a conversation just the other day at a Marshall County ball field, “I’m going to apply at that new Toyota plant.”
The plant will be located in the corner of Union County, and adjoining Lee and Pontotoc. It’s the biggest economic news, I guess ever, to hit these parts.
And the leaders in those three counties deserve the bulk of the credit. They formed the PUL (Pontotoc, Union, Lee) Alliance. They tore down the competitive walls, and realized what’s good for one neighbor is good for the other.
In most every area newspaper I receive, plus in the one we publish right here in Marshall County, there have been front-page stories about the hopes of attracting Toyota suppliers. City and county leaders are focusing on unity. That’s a positive. Teamwork is a tremendous tool.
In the April 25 edition of The Marion County Journal-Record, the twice-a-week newspaper in Marion County, Ala., State Senator Roger Bedford wrote in his column, “With the announcement of Toyota coming to Tupelo, an economic opportunity is available to us here in Northwest Alabama which we have not had before. For the first time, we are in the 70-mile circle radius of the main plant, which enables us to qualify as a potential industrial site for the Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers to Toyota.
“There is a lot of activity and talk going on about how we can better help our local communities have the resources they need to attract and get these new jobs. Once these plants are located, the opportunity to attract them to our senate district will be over, so we must all pull together.
“I am pleased to see so many of our local officials and chamber folks putting their heads together to find out what is the best way to attract these good-paying jobs in our area.”
While visiting Marion County a couple of weekends ago, there was plenty of talk about Toyota.
“How close is that to you?” they’d ask.
Neal Wade, Alabama Development Office director, had this to say in the April 21 edition of The Journal-Record, “If you truly want to bring in larger projects or mega projects, you have to come together as a region to make it successful. You are not selling Guin, you are selling the entire region. You are recognizing that everyone has to work together.”
Our own Marshall County is in a strong position – based on its proximity to Toyota Mississippi and Memphis and the locations of Potts Camp, Holly Springs and Byhalia right along Highway 78 (I-22).
We are also fortunate to have Bill Renick and the leadership of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority working on a very aggressive plan.
Renick told the board of supervisors recently, “We have a lot going on and we’re at a place where we’re going to have to move to the next level for Marshall County or remain at status quo.”
Nearby counties are lining up for nearly 80 supplier companies that are likely to locate in the region in the next 10 years.
We can all help. We can all get on the team, and be positive about our county and its future.
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