Area Development
Editor's Note: This article was supplied by the Mississippi Development Authority. The state provides workforce support to help recruit and retain top-tier companies.

Automotive-related companies continue to seek sites in states with highly skilled and motivated workforces. Having such a workforce has solidified Mississippi’s status as an automotive manufacturing magnet as it continues to recruit top-tier companies. Efforts to enhance the state’s workforce are evident through initiatives such as the Mississippi Works Fund, as the state continues to experience economic growth in the automotive sector with companies announcing milestones, new locations, and expansions.

For example, in April, Toyota announced plans to build a nearly $10 million visitor and interactive training center to showcase how nearly 2,000 Mississippians produce Corolla vehicles shipped the world over. This announcement celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Japanese automaker locating a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Blue Springs, Miss. The team members at the plant assembled 500,000 vehicles faster than any other Toyota plant in North America. The company is on track to produce its one-millionth vehicle later this year.

“This is an opportunity to tell the story of the quality work Mississippi team members put forth daily,” said Sean Suggs, vice president of manufacturing for Toyota Mississippi. “The interactive visitor and training center allows us to spotlight the Corolla’s rise to the best-selling car in the world, as well as delve into the history of Toyota and our Blue Springs facility. It represents a continued commitment to our team members and the Northeast Mississippi community.”

{{RELATEDLINKS}} Further south in the state, another major Japanese automaker spurred economic growth, allowing another automotive supplier to seek expansion. Calsonic Kansei has been a long-time supplier to Nissan, employing more than 500 at the automaker’s Canton plant. In need of more space, Calsonic Kansei expanded to another facility within Madison County, representing an investment of $16.33 million and creation of 98 additional jobs.

“We are very excited about the new Calsonic Kansei North America Canton facility,” said Calsonic Kansei North America Vice President Nancy Rice. “Manufacturing began in May and we have plans to increase the volume shipping from this site over the next year. The America’s region is the single largest contributor to Global CK and we are excited to be able to enlarge our manufacturing footprint in the U.S. We will continue to strive for excellence in maintaining a strong workforce in the Magnolia State.”

Mississippi is strengthening the state’s productive workforce to help manufacturers meet and exceed their production goals. The Mississippi Works Fund, signed into law in 2016, commits $50 million to train the next generation of skilled workers. The fund supports training through the state’s network of 15 community colleges and workforce partners. The initiative enhances the collaborative efforts of the post-secondary education institutions to create a robust workforce and thriving business climate. It also strengthens the state’s status as a powerhouse automotive manufacturer.