UPDATE: Toyota supplier to resume operations

BALDWYN – By this time next year, Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi should have the bulk of its 300 employees hired as it prepares to open simultaneously with Toyota’s assembly plant in Blue Springs.
On Friday, the Tier 1 supplier said it was resuming operations at its 516,700-square-foot facility near Baldwyn. Like Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi in Blue Springs, APMM will open in the fall of 2011.
APMM will supply stamped, body weld and plastic parts to TMMMS, which will build the popular Corolla sedan.
In June, Toyota said it was resuming work at TMMMS, whose opening had been delayed in December 2008 as the global economy declined, along with auto sales. The plant was to have opened this year. Toyota’s June announcement pushed that date to fall of next year. About 2,000 workers are expected to be working at the plant when it reaches full production in spring 2012.
Almost exactly three years ago, Toyota Auto Body became the first supplier to announce that it would provide parts to TMMMS. The company, 56 percent owned by Toyota, said it would invest $180 million and employ about 260 workers at the plant, which was named Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi. It later bumped up its investment to $200 million and said 400 would be employed at the facility.
On Friday, the investment figure didn’t change, but the employment target went down. Nevertheless, state and local officials had no complaints.
With unemployment at 12.6 percent in the region, any new jobs are welcome.
“We stayed committed to this outstanding company and never lost faith that they would start production when the time was right,” said Darrell Rankin, president of the Lee County Board of Supervisors. “Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi has fulfilled every commitment made to Lee County and Baldwyn, and together we look forward to the impact this company will make on our local economy.”
“It’s great news that Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi will restart its operations in Mississippi and provide support for the Toyota manufacturing plant in Blue Springs,” said Gov. Haley Barbour. “We expect more suppliers to begin work and create jobs as the auto plant prepares to start production. Toyota and its suppliers have been committed partners throughout this process, and I appreciate their dedication to our state.”
Said Baldwyn Mayor Michael James, “This is an exceptional company and we could not be any more excited for them to resume operations at this plant in our community.”
APMM is Toyota Auto Body’s first facility in the U.S. and will serve as the company’s North American headquarters. The company, based in Kariya-city Japan, manufactures special vehicles bodies – including the Prius, Land Cruiser and Lexus LX470 – and other parts, and has nearly 13,500 employees worldwide.
The facility, which is finished, sits on about 100 acres in the Harry A. Martin North Lee Industrial Complex. Less than 10 people currently work at the plant.
The company has not announced its hiring plans.
APMM is the second supplier in as many weeks to resume operations.
Last week, Arvin Sango said it was restarting construction of its $4 million plant in Henderson, Tenn. The company will employ 40 workers and will supply exhaust systems to TMMMS. It is expected to open my mid-2011.
Five other Tier 1 suppliers in north Mississippi have not announced their plans for restarting operations.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal