Thursday, June 24, 2010
Great news from Toyota
Bill Renick made an educated guess a few weeks back in his talk to the Holly Springs Rotary Club.
He said he believed an announcement would come in the next few months from Toyota concerning the future of the Blue Springs site.
I’m not sure even Bill, former industrial development coordinator in Marshall County who now works for Three Rivers Planning and Development District, and other officials expected it to come as soon as it did, July 17.
Last week was one of those weeks that I really needed some good news, and thank goodness, Toyota provided it.
Gov. Haley Barbour said he got the call at 6 a.m. Thursday and it “was the best wake-up call I ever had.”
I caught a bit of the TV news the night before, saying an announcement was expected. Then Sen. Bill Stone called me Thursday morning to tell me a contingent from Marshall County would be attending an afternoon announcement at Blue Springs. Staff writer Sue Watson tagged along.
The location on Highway 78 (Future Interstate 22) is a short drive from here – just 23 miles to the Benton County line and Hickory Flat; 31 miles to the Marshall County line and Potts Camp; 42 miles to the first Holly Springs exit; and about 60 miles to the Byhalia exit.
Toyota first announced in 2007 that it planned to build at the 1,700-acre site with production scheduled to start in 2010. A stagnant global economy delayed the project.
But then on Thursday, Toyota announced it will build Corolla compact cars at the plant in the corner of Union County and adjoining Lee and Pontotoc counties. The first car is expected to come off the assembly line in the fall of next year.
Hiring will likely begin in August or September for an estimated 2,000 jobs. About 100,000 people are expected to apply.
Mississippi’s unemployment rate was 10.7 percent in April. It was 12 percent in April for northeast Mississippi.
Toyota’s announcement last week that it will build 150,000 cars annually at Blue Springs is the biggest economic news to hit these parts in some time – perhaps ever.
Toyota executives believe suppliers and vendors will create an additional 2,000 jobs in the area.
Our own Marshall County – as I’ve said in this column before – is in a strong position, based on its proximity to Toyota Mississippi and Memphis, Tenn., and the locations of Potts Camp, Holly Springs and Byhalia right along Highway 78 (I-22).
We are fortunate to have executive director Bill Mobley and the leadership of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority working on an aggressive plan to land some of these suppliers and vendors. And not far away, too, in the northwest corner of our county is the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park, which continues to get looks from economic development prospects.
Renick, who lives in Ashland, told Rotarians one of the reasons the state decided to put a full-time WIN Job Center in Marshall County because of the future economic development opportunities.
Toyota is working with WIN Job Centers to handle the employment process.
Renick also said economic development is a marathon, not a sprint.
And we’re all glad Marshall County is in the race.
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