EDITORIAL: Fast-increasing impact

By NEMS Daily Journal

New jobs related to Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi are growing steadily in number and impact in Northeast Mississippi, even though production of the best-selling Corolla sedans won’t start until about this time in 2011 at the TMMMS assembly plant near Blue Springs in Union County.
TMMMS officials announced that all major internal construction work at the Wellspring site campus has been completed, and that new hires every week (including contract construction of a railroad marshaling yard and other external elements) are building steadily toward a 1,400-1,500 employee pre-production work force on site by March 2011. That will make Toyota and related enterprises one of the largest employers in north Mississippi before the first car is produced.
David Copenhaver, TMMMS vice president of administration, said major construction at the 2 million-square-foot plant is complete.
All the new jobs – whether direct Toyota hires or through contractors and Tier 1 suppliers like Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi in Baldwyn – will be a healthy wage, and monthly regionwide economic impact will be measured in millions of dollars before production begins.
The production and maintenance jobs at TMMMS will pay between $15 and $25 an hour, while the average manufacturing wage in the region is about $13 an hour, all plus benefits.
Nearly 17,800 people have applied for the hourly positions at TMMMS, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. Those 17,800 people are roughly equal interestingly to the total manufacturing employment of the PUL Alliance area (Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties) in 2009: 17,690 jobs, reported by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. PUL is the legal entity formed to promote an auto assembly plant in the region.
The growth on-site makes the reliability of the Corolla brand increasingly important in the region’s mindset. By small-car standards, it is an old reliable, introduced in 1966 and first sold in the U.S. in 1968.
At full production employment – 2,000 – TMMMS will be linked to one of the largest single-company networks in North America – 35,000 employees, investment valued at more than $23 billion, and annual purchasing of materials, goods and services from North American suppliers at more than $25 billion.
The Mississippi Development Authority projects that full production at the Toyota plant will lead to 7,000 direct and indirect jobs, equivalent to one of Northeast Mississippi’s typical small cities.
Our region is beginning to see how that will be possible.