As the automotive industry continues to expand throughout the South, manufacturers are recognizing that Mississippi, in the heart of the Southern Automotive Corridor, is a winning choice. Mississippi not only has a favorable business climate, but the state continues to invest in its work force - one of the most productive non-union work forces in the industry.
The announcement of Toyota's $1.3 billion facility in Blue Springs, Mississippi, in April 2007 solidified Mississippi's position as an aggressive competitor in the industry. That role was first proven with the location of the $1.6 billion Nissan facility in Canton, which produced a record one million cars in February 2007, less than four years after production began.
Automotive suppliers are taking notice, too. Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd. (TAB) will build a $180 million plant in North Mississippi, its first investment in the United States and the first announced Tier I supplier to Toyota's new facility. TAB joins the roughly 90 other automotive manufacturing, distribution, and supplier companies located in Mississippi.
Further evidence of Mississippi's growth in this sector is the recent announcement by PACCAR to invest over $400 million in its first U.S. diesel engine plant in Columbus. PACCAR, an international company known for its quality, produces Kenworth, Peterbilt, and DAF trucks.
Mississippi understands that automotive projects need to move quickly to begin production. Having a proven team and ready-to-go industrial sites can reduce planning and construction time and, most importantly, costs. In fact, the Nissan project, which was one of the largest greenfield projects in the world, was completed on time and on budget with help and support from the state of Mississippi. Megasites like the Nissan location also played major roles in the success of other high-profile locations, including the Toyota plant and SeverCorr's steel mini-mill in Lowndes County, which later this year will become the first mini-mill to produce automotive grade sheet steel.
The ability to move raw materials in and finished products out to market is essential to successful automotive manufacturers. Mississippi offers excellent highway and rail access, in addition to access to key ports along the Gulf Coast and the state's navigable rivers. Mississippi's highway system ranks among the four best in the country and the best in the South. With access to major north-south markets like Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans and east-west markets like Atlanta, Birmingham, Dallas, and Los Angeles, Mississippi's prime location is first-rate for distribution.
With the introduction of the Momentum Mississippi Initiative, Mississippi realigned its incentives to attract quality, higher-skilled jobs in growing sectors of the economy. A flexible yet aggressive approach allows the state to customize incentives and financing programs to meet the needs of each unique project. The state has also modified its workforce training programs by joining forces with the network of community colleges and other institutions.
There has never been a better time to invest in Mississippi.
Melissa Medley, Director of Marketing & Communications
Mississippi Development Authority
501 North West Street
Jackson, MS 39201