Mississippi Officials Welcome Toyota To Tupelo

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour joined Toyota (NYSE: TM) officials on Tuesday morning to announce that the company has chosen a 1,700-acre site in Blue Springs, Miss., 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.

Mississippi House Ways and Means Chairman Percy Watson told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger he expects the legislature to hold a special session this weekend to consider a $298 million bond package for the new Toyota plant.

He said the incentives would include $145.8 million for public infrastructure, $84 million to train Toyota workers and $30 million to train suppliers’ workers. Also included would be a sales tax rebate on equipment.

Also, a new auto engineering program will be offered at the University of Mississippi.

Gov. 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 Gov. 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 Gov. Barbour at the announcement.

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, Ind.

“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. “Gov. 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

Toyota currently operates six vehicle assembly plants with one under construction in North America. These include:

• Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK), in Georgetown produces the Avalon, Camry, Camry Hybrid, and Camry Solara.

• Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc. (TMMC), in Cambridge, Ontario produces the Corolla, Matrix and Lexus RX 350.

• Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc. (TMMI), in Princeton produces the Tundra, Sequoia, and Sienna.

• New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), a joint venture with General Motors in Fremont, California, produces the Corolla and Tacoma and Pontiac Vibe.

• Toyota Motor Manufacturing de Baja California (TMMBC), in Tijuana, Mexico, produces the Tacoma and Tacoma truck beds.

• Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. (TMMTX), in San Antonio produces the Tundra.

• And beginning in 2008, a new plant in Woodstock, Ontario will produce the RAV4.

Also, Toyota this spring will start producing Camrys at Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) in Lafayette, Indiana.

Additionally, Toyota has four engine plants in North America including:

• Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia, Inc. (TMMWV), in Buffalo produces four-cylinder and V6 engines and automatic transmissions.

• TMMK produces four-cylinder and V6 engines.

• TMMC assembles four-cylinder engines.

• Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama, Inc. (TMMAL), produces V6 and V8 engines.


It is my great pleasure to announce today that Toyota Motor Corporation has decided to locate its next North American automobile assembly plant at the Wellspring site near Tupelo, Mississippi.

Obviously, we in Mississippi and especially North Mississippi are excited to have been chosen by Toyota as its partner. Toyota is the world’s premiere auto manufacturer, and our state will be the best partner the Company has.

Let me share some specifics with you: Toyota’s new plan will initially employ 2,000 workers when it opens in less than three years; between now and then some 2,000 construction jobs will have been created; and Toyota will invest $1.3 billion not including the State’s incentives.

The primary reason Toyota selected Tupelo was the quality of the workforce and the leadership in this community. North Mississippi has a strong, productive workforce, and the selection of this site is a tribute to those outstanding workers.

We’re every bit as committed to the success of this facility as Toyota is. I want to publicly thank the Toyota team not only for choosing Blue Springs in North Mississippi, but also for the way the company has worked with us in this process.

Every state wants an assembly plant – because they generate lots of jobs, pay good wages and benefits, and generate lots of positive economic spin-off. Because of this competition, incentives for assembly plants are similar to free agency in baseball – the price keeps going up. We offered a very competitive incentive package to Nissan 6 years ago – and I thought we would have to beat that package to get the crown jewel of economic development – a Toyota assembly plant. Early on, Toyota told us that they didn’t want to engage in an incentive bidding war – and I’m happy to announce that the state incentive package agreed to by Toyota is about the same as Nissan even though six years have gone by.

Because Toyota has accepted a lower incentive package, this allows the State to allocate more incentives to potential suppliers. That way many towns and counties will benefit from the jobs created by those suppliers – and we intend to be aggressive in recruiting all of the Toyota suppliers we can to Mississippi.

As a noteworthy and generous act, Toyota has told us that after the plant starts up the company will donate $50 million to the schools of Lee, Pontotoc and Union Counties. These ten annual gifts of $5 million each will improve already outstanding school systems for the benefit of the children of Toyota’s initial workforce and will also help the workforce of this facility for many years to come.

We have also agreed a Toyota Nature Preserve will be created adjacent to the site. Further, when the plant opens in less than three years, Mississippi’s school children will celebrate the occasion by planting 500,000 trees on what will become Toyota Arbor Day in our State.

We are grateful that the company recognizes the important roles our universities, especially Ole Miss, and our community colleges will play in helping make this plant and its workers the most productive Toyota has in North America. A major part of the incentives will actually go to our community colleges and universities.

I want to thank Toyota, its top leadership in Japan, its leaders in North America, including its president, Mr. Sudo, who is with us here in Tupelo; Gary Convis and Ray Tanguay, who you will hear from in a moment; Jim Press, who is joining us from Washington; and the team that worked on this site selection. Thank you for recognizing the quality of our workers, the commitment of this community, the excellence of our schools and our quality of life. Thank you for seeing how bright Mississippi’s future is and for Toyota deciding to become part of that bright future.

Toyota’s selection of Wellspring results from the efforts of and answers the prayers of many Northeast Mississippi leaders who realized our furniture industry in this area employs fewer people today than ten years ago, and even a healthy furniture industry will employ fewer people in the years to come. My administration and the State got that message, and this great Toyota project gives us a spectacular way to replace those good furniture jobs with superior, better paying jobs in the auto industry. This situation was also key to why Toyota knew such a strong workforce will be available to it and its suppliers.

Many Mississippians deserve enormous credit for our winning this competition: Gray Swoope and his great team at the Mississippi Development Authority; the PUL Alliance, quarterbacked by David Rumbarger at CDF, a true professional who did outstanding work on this project, as he always does; the farsighted local officials of Pontotoc, Union and Lee Counties and the community leaders in CDF and other hard-working organizations who conceived Wellspring; Chancellor Robert Khayat from the University and Dr. David Cole from Itawamba Community College – our community college and university systems were huge assets in our being selected; Randy Kelly and the Three Rivers Planning and Development District; Glenn McCullough and Aubrey Patterson.

I am delighted to salute Lt. Governor Amy Tuck and House Speaker Billy McCoy, who have been my confidants and super supporters of Wellspring and our attracting Toyota to North Mississippi. In the next few days they will be leading this effort in the Legislature.

Indispensable to our success has been our State’s exceptional Congressional delegation: Senator Trent Lott and your outstanding Congressman Roger Wicker are both with us, and Senator Thad Cochran joins us by satellite from Washington. Before introducing them, I want to publicly thank each of them. This wouldn’t have happened without them.

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