Want to work for Toyota? Be patient.

Want to work for Toyota? Be patient.

- Employees can make up to $20 an hour with generous benefits packages.

By Emily Le Coz

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Hold onto that resume for a while; Toyota won’t be hiring workers for its new facility here until at least mid-2008, company officials said Tuesday.

That’s when the $1.3 billion Highlander assembly plant will near completion and when the company starts interviewing the first of its 2,000 employees.

Engineers, upper management, maintenance, and, later, factory-floor and assembly-line operators will be needed at the plant, which will handle stamping, body welding, plastics, paint and assembly.

Pay can climb as high as $20 per hour with very generous benefits packages, said Ray Tanguay, senior vice president of Toyota Motor North America.

Tanguay and others said the company will advertise for employees in local newspapers when Toyota is ready to hire here.

As for contractors eager to help build the plant, the company likely will select from a pool of firms that it has worked with in the past to head the effort, said James Wiseman, Toyota’s vice president of external affairs. But the automaker will hold a “fair” for subcontractors wanting to offer their services.

Wiseman didn’t provide details of the fair but said Toyota probably would need more than 100 subcontractors to develop the 1,700-acre site.

When it’s ready to hire, the world’s second-largest automaker will recruit from a large region, including Northeast Mississippi, eastern Alabama and the Memphis area. David Rumbarger, president and CEO of the Community Development Foundation, couldn’t project what percentage of the plant’s eventual work force would come from the area’s existing pool of workers as opposed to those who will be brought in from elsewhere.

During Tuesday’s press conference to announce Toyota’s selection of Wellspring, Gov. Haley Barbour speculated that the new plant would employ 4,000 within a few years.

Toyota officials tempered that statement, reiterating that they had plans for only 2,000 workers initially. But they did admit it would be nice if worldwide demand for their vehicles required the plant to double its size.

Contact Daily Journal city reporter Emily Le Coz at 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.