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As expected, Toyota officially announced its plans to build the Highlander in northeast Mississippi. The company will invest $1.8 billion in the project and initially employ 2,000 workers. Toyota officials, along with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (speaking in photo), made the announcement this morning at a press conference in Tupelo, Miss.

"We in Mississippi and especially north Mississippi are excited to have been chosen by Toyota as its partner," Barbour said at the conference. "Toyota is the world's premiere auto manufacturer and our state will be the best partner the company has."

Plans are for the plant to be up and running by 2009, producing as many as 150,000 gasoline-powered 2010 model Highlanders a year. Hybrid Highlander production will remain in Japan. With an incentive package somewhat smaller than the state offered Nissan in 2003, Toyota will acquire the entire 1,500 acre site that straddles three counties.

[Sources: The Clarion-Ledger, The Commercial Appeal, Sean P. Thompson]

The Clarion-Ledger newspaper quotes Mike Randle of Southern Business and Development as saying Toyota chose the Mississippi site over Arkansas and Tennessee partly because of an agreement between Barbour and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley. Randle said Barbour agreed to support a steel mill locating in Alabama if Mississippi got Toyota. With Toyota's engine plant only a few hours east near Huntsville, Ala., it seems a win-win-win situation for all involved.

Toyota says it will donate $50 million to public schools in Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties, where the site is located. The ten $5 million checks sould help ensure a well-trained workforce and give Toyota a positive image in the communities. The University of Mississippi, 45 miles west of the site, also said it will begin an automotive engineering program to coincide with the building of the plant, further improving the pool of workers from which Toyota can pull.


Toyota To Build Highlanders in Mississippi - New Plant to Start Production by 2010; To Employ 2,000 Team Members

February 27, 2007 - TUPELO, Mississippi - Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour joined Toyota (NYSE: TM) officials today to announce that the company has chosen a 1,700-acre site in Blue Springs, Mississippi to build its eighth North American vehicle assembly plant.

The new plant, to be located just outside of Tupelo, will have the capacity to build 150,000 vehicles annually of Toyota's popular Highlander sport utility vehicle. Production is scheduled to begin by 2010.

The new plant represents a $1.3 billion investment by Toyota and is expected to create approximately 2,000 new jobs for the region and indirectly create work for many more. Operations at the plant will include stamping, body weld, plastics, paint, and assembly.

Governor Barbour, speaking at a news conference held in Tupelo, welcomed Toyota's decision to set up operations in Mississippi.

"We in Mississippi and especially North Mississippi are excited to have been chosen by Toyota as its partner," said Governor Barbour. "Toyota is the world's premiere auto manufacturer and our state will be the best partner the company has."

Toyota manufacturing Executive Vice Presidents, Gary Convis and Ray Tanguay, joined Governor Barbour at the announcement to help deliver the good news to local citizens.

Convis addressed Toyota's challenge in balancing rapid growth while maintaining the company's superior quality standards, noting the recent start up of Tundra production in San Antonio and upcoming launch of Camry production at the Subaru plant in Lafayette, Indiana.

"We are excited for the opportunity to do business in Mississippi and are confident the team members here will have a commitment to perform at the highest possible level," he said. "Governor Barbour and the regional economic development team were very convincing and unrelenting in their efforts to showcase the area's advantages," Convis said, while acknowledging that competition among several states for the new plant was tough.

Tanguay also pointed out several factors that led to Toyota's site selection decision.

"On my visits to Northern Mississippi, I have talked with area companies and observed their workforce," said Tanguay. "What I observed were people who are educated, ethical and friendly with a strong work ethic – a perfect match for the Toyota Way." He added that the area's existing companies had high praise for the workforce. "They were definitely the best sales people."

Convis and Tanguay both recognized the contributions of the team who worked on bringing Toyota's fifth vehicle assembly plant to the U.S., citing the team effort put forth by state and local officials and the private sector.

"The partnership of all of these groups was instrumental to our decision, including the creation of a new rail district to provide competitive rail access for the plant," said Tanguay.

"We're honored that Toyota has chosen to invest in our state and grow with Mississippians," said Trent Lott, Senator of Mississippi. "This is a partnership between one of the world's best companies, and a state which has already proven itself capable of attracting the world's top defense, automotive and aerospace jobs."

Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran and Congressman Roger Wicker also participated in the announcement.

Site preparation and construction for the plant is scheduled to begin later this spring. A majority of the hiring will take place closer to the start of vehicle production.

Outline of Toyota Mississippi

Location Blue Springs, Mississippi (outside of Tupelo)
Plant overview Vehicle production (stamping, body weld, plastics, paint and assembly)
Product Toyota Highlander
Production capacity 150,000 units/year
Site area 1,700 acres
Investment $1.3 billion
Start of production By 2010
Employment 2,000

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Another thing Gary Z. You mention nothing but American companies in your example of other industries we could be fighting about. How is that an apples to apples comparison? If any American company started building cars here (with any kind of real U.S. assembly) I don't think Americans would be arguing much if any. Do you understand that? I.e. no one fights over Mars vs Hershey (an example I think you were shooting for) for MANY reasons. One obviously being they are both American and majority of both their stockholders are American.

      But to show how far off point you are, Mars owns Snickers (see pick to illustrate how you are so out of control off point: http://www.mars.com/global/What+do+we+do/Snackfood.htm)

      You obviously don't understand the whole big picture. It is clear that you don't with the Mars bar vs Sickers thing.
      • 8 Years Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Memo to the UAW, Ford, GM, Chrysler and the state of Michigan:

      You lost the war.
      • 8 Years Ago
      wow should be great news.. In a couple years..

      production in North america so far this year:

      Gm 593,031
      Fomoco 404,519
      DCX 380,626
      Honda 222,134
      Toyota 196,892
      Nissan 194,385

      toyota has stated their goal is to build 60% of what they sell here on our soil.. and they aren't at that goal, while honda and nissan are what close to 80% now?

      Keep it real all you lemmings..

      • 8 Years Ago
      There's two!
      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't begrudge the people of Mississippi good paying jobs- if they deserve them. My point is that Toyota is not going to contribute to the national economy as the domestics are.

      Do you really think they chose Mississippi because of it's great location to send their management? For the droves of well trained, intelligent locals with tons of manufacturing experience? Or could it possibly be because the labor is cheap and the government is begging for the plant (and willing to subsidize heavily)?

      You can call me a hypocrite all you want but the fact of the matter is that they will continue to build in areas they know they can pay crap wages.

      If that translates to better value for the consumer, great, but their product is just as expensive (or in many cases, more expensive) as that built by employees of more well established, more educated areas that will continue to command higher pay.

      I don't see Toyota donating the difference to charity, nope that money's going back to Japan by the boatload. Meanwhile, they are worried that labor costs here are too expensive and are looking for ways to cut them so that they can further increase their profit margins, all while their quality contiues to decline. How do you think they plan to do that? Maybe another plant in Mississippi? I'm sure they'd just as soon build in Mexico but they desperately want to call their vehicles "American built" to further their PR campaign against the domestics.
      • 8 Years Ago
      First, the UAW apologists blamed the foreigners for the Big 2.5's current problems. I responded by pointing out most of the problems can be traced back to the UAW itself. It has used blackmail, in the form of walkouts and strikes, to financially sabotage the Big 2.5. This resulted in $67/hr average wages and $100K severage packages, which continue to cripple the Big 2.5 to this day.

      Second, the apologists claimed that profits from Japanese vehicles go back to Japan, no matter if they are built in America with domestic content and components. I responded by questioning why the UAW has no problem with DaimlerChrysler profits going back to Germany. Then I pointed out that DaimlerChrysler uses union labor in its legacy plants, which casts suspicion on the true motives of the UAW: to protect its own membership, regardless of where the profits end up.

      Now, the apologists hide behind a fake consumer advocacy role. They claim that the use of a non-union workforce by the Japanese companies in the American South, would lead to a decline in the reliability of Japanese vehicles. They further use stereotypes to portray and slander their fellow Americans in the South as uneducated country folks who are unable to get things right. To which I reply:

      There is nothing highly skilled about bolting and welding parts together. No college diploma is required to assemble vehicles. For far too long, the average UAW worker has costed too much money to perform work that requires literacy, manual labor, attention to detail, and not much else. Something that can be done just as competently in the South, and at a much lower cost. And given the right opportunity, which the Japanese companies are now providing, there is no reason why the Southerners cannot outperform the UAW workers in the North.

      I see the UAW, and their apologists, for what they are: A group of spiteful men stooping to all manner of misinformation to cling onto their long history of entitlement from the Big 2.5. Unwilling to give up lucrative wages and health benefits that cost $67/hr, or severance packages of $100,000, all of which was gained by the use of blackmail in the UAW's long history. To this group of men, I say, your days of exploiting and financially crippling the Big 2.5 will soon be at an end. And your reckoning will come at the unemployment office, which will not be a moment too soon. It is only then that the Big 2.5 can compete on a level playing field, with a non-union workforce like the Japanese automakers, and freed from the burden and disadvantage the anti-American UAW imposed on it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Then here comes Barney the dinosaur and he calls GM "GMC", no Barney, that is a division of GM that makes trucks.

      No Barney, I don't buy the Korean made Chevy myself. That is a message I choose to send by looking at the VIN and parts content sticker. It is a tiny car that would never be made here anyway. Even the Yaris and Fit in the same class as the Aveo AREN'T MADE HERE AND NEVER WILL BE, Barney.

      But you did forget about all the German engineering GM is using lately, you know, because the Japanese never use non-American engineering (except for 99% of their vehicles) and oh, btw, Opel has been owned by GM for more than 80 years, yup, no Americans have ever gone over there to work in 80 years I'm sure.

      "Oh praise thee mighty American car manufacturer for thee caused the demise of many others."

      Yup, GM and Ford has done all harm and no good, well, except us Americans would not be speaking English right now if not for their manufacturing and who knows what would have come to most minorities which didn't fit into the German/Japanese plans much. But whatever, minor details if you want to go back to the days of GM eating up car companies (i.e. that far back, you know when current execs weren't old enough to drive). I have no problem going back but let's not be stingy and only give blame.

      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm with you toyota4life. I'm totally ashamed of the complete IGNORANCE surrounding the INVESTMENT in America!!

      Who is going to Build that plant? Americans! etc., etc., etc...

      But now, we must BASH it!

      How is it that buying a 3rd-rate car/truck is a GOOD thing, since it is designed and built in a 3rd-rate manner by Americans??? Go figure.

      The nature of America is competition. Best product wins. Sure, the losers will be upset, but all-in-all, America wins.

      Since no one else will come out and say it, I will:

      Thank you Toyota for investing in America and having faith in the American workforce. Your jobs will create middle-class lifestyles and incomes such that those people can all afford a new shiny Toyota in their driveway.


      • 8 Years Ago
      #19: "if an American were to write Asian speak swapping 'L' and 'R'..."

      So what you are assuming is that "GM WHO" is Asian...and the reason you are assuming this is because he likes Japanese cars. And in your very limited view of the world the only people that like Japanese vehicles are Asian.

      Snap out of your dream world and look around, you fool! Not everyone who drives Japanese vehicles are Asian. Just live with it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Mississippi deserves Toyota. Enjoy the scab wages.
      • 8 Years Ago
      'Morning Mike,

      Yes, I've been to Mississippi.

      Your argument boils down to one item: You don't want your "fellow AMERICANS(!!)" to have a better life!!

      You contradict everything you supposedly stand for.

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