Thursday, August 2, 2007
Exciting times for our region
The Toyota interest continues to gain momentum.
I got a call last week about our front page story, headlined “Training time for Toyota.”
“Is Toyota going to put something here?” was the question.
Actually, Toyota Mississippi is locating in Blue Springs, approximately 31 miles east of the Marshall County line. It picked a 1,700-acre site there developed by the PUL (Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties) Alliance. The cooperation and teamwork between those three counties was key.
The plant will employ at least 2,000 people when it begins producing Highlander SUVs in about 2010.
But the coming of Toyota to the corner of Union County is a blessing for all of us.
The recent meeting held in Holly Springs was all about Toyota’s plan for building a strong workforce from folks right here in North Mississippi, including Marshall County. Toyota’s model for workforce training is one of the best.
It was definitely an honor for the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority to host such an important meeting of manufacturing and education executives.
Now the wooing has begun as cities and counties near Blue Springs hope to land Toyota suppliers. Marshall County is in that mix.
A story in Friday’s Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal announced – “First Toyota supplier coming, but where?”
Toyota Auto Body Co. Ltd., which is 56 percent owned by Toyota Motor Co., will build a $180 million plant on 50 acres in North Mississippi to supply stamped parts, body weld parts and plastic parts to Toyota Mississippi.
The site Toyota Auto Body Co. Ltd. will pick is not yet known. One Toyota executive said it would likely build within a 25-mile radius of the Blue Springs plant.
The facility will be named Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi Inc. and will employ about 250 workers, according to the Daily Journal report.
Economic development officials say it’s the first of many suppliers that will come to the area. One report a couple of months back estimated nearly 80 Toyota suppliers will move to the region in the next 10 years.
And, as I’ve said in this space before, the competition will be fierce for those suppliers. Not just Mississippi counties, but those nearby in Tennessee and Alabama also want some of the economic development action.
Just last week in the Marion County, Ala., newspaper, the headline read – “Shelby: $1M for Fulton Bridge Industrial Park.” The funds have not yet been approved.
The development at Exit 14 off Highway 78 (Future I-22) is being touted as the largest industrial park on the future interstate between Birmingham and Memphis, Tenn.
Similar headlines, about communities lining up for possible Toyota spin-offs, are in newspapers all around.
It’s exciting. This industrial development momentum is good for all of our communities and counties in northeast and northwest Mississippi and it’s good for the region as a whole.
Of course, we want any new industry to pick Marshall County. Our own county is our top priority, and we’re in a strong position to reap some of the direct benefits.
But truth is we’re all Mississippians and North Mississippians, too.
Teamwork landed Toyota. Teamwork will continue to play a major role in landing any and all suppliers.
Like Randy Kelley, executive director of the PUL Alliance said in the Daily Journal – “The big story is the long-term impact on Northeast Mississippi that will develop from all of this.”
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