EDITORIAL: Jobs optimism

Applications continue today for Toyota supplier Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi at the WIN Job Center on Itawamba Community College’s Belden campus in Tupelo, an encouraging run-up to anticipated initial production of the Corolla at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi’s plant near Blue Springs in the fall of 2011.
The APMM plant in Baldwyn is a Tier-1 supplier for TMMM, and it plans to have 300 employees by November.
The application process doesn’t guarantee anything, and APMM is only considering applicants who apply in person at the WIN Center, a state agency. The company has said it’s offering $12.50 an hour for production workers to start, with pay raises about every six months until it’s $15.80 an hour. The pay for maintenance workers will be based on experience, education and certifications.
The application process operates today from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Officials with APMM will be at the job fair to answer questions.
The APMM plant will make metal frame parts, instrument panels and front and rear bumpers.
Company officials say they want a strong pool of applicants, and because unemployment in Northeast Mississippi remains in double digits, a big turnout seems a reasonable expectation.
The APMM decision to move ahead also is encouraging because the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan affected many auto manufacturers and their suppliers, with probable implications for a time in those companies’ U.S. plants.
The Wall Street Journal reported that much of the supply concern in Japan and abroad involves the semiconductor industry because of damage to a manufacturing facility owned by Renesas Electronics Corp. That damage may stop deliveries for two and a half months, a Goldman Sachs analyst told the New York newspaper.
Renesas is a large supplier of chips used in navigation products, power windows and seats, engines and digital instrument panels.
The WSJ report said partial production shutdowns in Japan would extend into June and that plants in the U.S. and other countries would begin closing the first week of April.
While the prospect of shutdowns and slowdowns is discouraging, Toyota itself issued an encouraging statement Thursday.
“The company said the impact should be limited because a majority of parts used by its North American factories came from suppliers there. It said the facilities still are receiving parts from Japan that were sent before the quake,” AP reported.
Optimism about Toyota in Mississippi is justified based on information so far.

NEMS Daily Journal