DECADE IN REVIEW: 2007

By NEMS Daily Journal

2007: Toyota finds a home

Dubbed by many as the top economic project in the country, Toyota Motor Co. announced on Feb. 27 that it would build a $1.3 billion auto assembly plant in Blue Springs.
Toyota, hot on the heels of General Motors to become the world’s biggest automaker, said the Blue Springs plant would employ 2,000 workers, with another 2,000 employed by suppliers.
The Japanese automaker cited the work ethic of the region for choosing the site.
“Our workers were the best sales people we had,” said David Rumbarger, president and CEO of the Tupelo-based Community Development Foundation, which helped market the site.
“No question, they saw that we were and are a hard-working people,” said Randy Kelley, executive director of the Three Rivers Planning and Development District.
But little did Toyota know that the economy would sink into recession and the automotive market plummet; in December 2008, the company said it would delay the opening of the plant – originally planned for late 2010 – for an indefinite period until the economy improved.

Also in 2007
– Business troubles mounted as Baldwyn-based fabric and craft retailer Hancock Fabrics filed for Chapter 11 in March, and the furniture industry saw the closings of several plant in the region. PeopLoungers in Nettleton filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
– Sara Lee closed its Bryan Foods plant in West Point on March 31, with 1,200 people losing their jobs. At one time, the plant, a staple in the community for nearly 100 years, employed more than 2,000 people.
n Mike Scott in January took over as superintendent of Lee County School District, while the Tupelo district adopted a major reorganization of its elementary schools.
– Fire consumed Jefferson Place bar-restaurant, a Tupelo landmark. What remained of the structure was torn down, and the business was never reopened.
n Leading 14-0 with 12 minutes left to go, Ole Miss failed on a fourth-and-1 call. Mississippi State scored 17 unanswered points to win the annual Battle for the Golden Egg. The loss led to the firing of head coach Ed Orgeron, while the Bulldogs wound up in their first bowl in seven years.
– Famed attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, his attorney son Zach, Oxford colleague Sidney Backstrom, former state auditor Steve Patterson and New Albany attorney Timothy Balducci were indicted on charges related to an attempted bribe of Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Clahoun County.