Locals move quickly for Toyota spots

By Carlie Kollath / NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Greg Smith of Tupelo didn’t waste any time waiting to apply for a production job at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi.
He was at the WIN Job Center in Belden for the 10 a.m. announcement and was camped out at a computer immediately after the event, ready to start the 30-minute online application process.
Smith isn’t the only one with his sights set on an hourly job at Toyota’s Mississippi plant. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security started taking online applications at 9 a.m. Monday. By 10:30 a.m., applications had begun to come in.
Toyota estimates between 100,000 and 400,000 people will apply for the 1,350 production jobs. The hourly rate that starts at $15 and tops out at $25.
Several of the potential applicants were gathered at the WIN Job Center on Monday, with the hopes of getting a jump on a job at Toyota.
Smith hopes to get a job working in quality control. He currently works at Sports Country. He said he worked for years at toilet manufacturing company Eljer in Verona before the plant closed in 2007.
He then went back to Itawamba Community College and completed the two-year IT program.
“But I just can’t find a job,” he said.
He hopes to work for Toyota so he can have more job stability.
Derick Ware has job stability – he’s been employed at Lane for 17 years – but said he spent his day off at the Toyota job announcement to see what the automotive company was offering.
“The pay is on par with what I would expect,” he said. “It’s a little bit more (than Lane) but not that much of a difference.”
He planned to apply for a production job when he got home Monday, citing a desire for a career change.
“I’d like easier work on my body because of my age,” Ware said.
Sonia Lopez, a Tupelo resident and former service station employee, said she was at the WIN Job Center looking for any job, whether it is with Toyota or another company.
“I came out today to look for a job to take care of my family,” she said. “I need a job bad – desperately.”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.