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Some businesses already pegged; others get ready

Potential suppliers prepped during Nissan conference

JACKSON — Last week, more than 1,300 potential suppliers attended Nissan’s three-day, invitation-only conference in hopes of doing business with the international automobile giant.

Before the conference, Nissan received responses by the Jan. 29 deadline from more than 2,200 companies seeking supplier relationships with the company, said Charles Talbott, vice president of purchasing for Nissan in Smyrna, Tenn.

“There were so many respondents that after reviewing their company profile, we classified suppliers by the nature of their business into a particular commodity,” Talbott said. “Then, sorting through the suppliers, we identified those we anticipate a need for, and they were invited to the conference.”

During the conference, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and the Woolfolk Building, both in downtown Jackson, in conjunction with the Mississippi Development Authority, potential suppliers were briefed on procurement requirements, company procedures and the selection process in 130 group meetings with two to 18 potential suppliers per meeting. Some companies had individual appointments with Nissan representatives.

“It’s a long process,” Talbott said. “Nissan’s needs aren’t necessarily governed by a specific number of suppliers. The suppliers will be selected by what goods and services, whether related to production, non-production or construction, they can provide.”

Earlier this month, PolyVulc USA Inc., makers of recycled-rubber and plastic pellets, inked an agreement with Nissan to provide components used in the auto manufacturing process, such as air conditioning pads. The Vicksburg company was one of the first suppliers to reach an agreement with Nissan, MDA officials have said.

Several construction-related companies have already benefited from Nissan’s arrival. On Jan. 15, site development work began in Madison County on the $930-million manufacturing plant, scheduled to open in the summer of 2003. Construction will begin on April 10 at the Nissan plant site, located north of Ragsdale Road and south of Canton, according to Nissan’s timeline, said Stephen Martin, MDA spokesperson.

Yates Construction/Major Associates of Philadelphia has been on location as site construction manager, and Waggoner, Schaffer, & AJA Inc., LLC, of Jackson was contracted for site work and water and wastewater pre-treatment systems.

Eutaw Construction Co. of Aberdeen is clearing the site and will prepare a third of the dirt pad on which the auto assembly plant will sit.

In a joint venture partnership, Falkner-based Hill Brothers Construction and Engineering Co. Inc. and Columbia-based T.L. Wallace Construction Co., two of the largest earth-moving companies in the state, were awarded a $25-million contract to construct the remaining two-thirds of the building pad.

The contract called for excavation and placement of approximately two million cubic yards of embankment compacted in place, lime treatment of sub grade and other miscellaneous items of work. Falco Lime Inc. in Vicksburg is shipping dozens of truckloads, carrying 22 tons of lime at a time, daily to the site.

In preparation for the tons of concrete that will be needed to build the two-million-square-foot auto assembly plant, concrete suppliers planning to open plants this spring near the Nissan site include Mississippi Materials Co. and Jackson Ready-Mix Concrete.

On Feb. 1, Denotee Martin Contractor Inc. and Systems Consultants Associates Inc. were selected as the minority and small business coordinators for the state-contracted work for the Nissan project. Both companies will work closely with prime contractors, minority contractors and disadvantaged contractors to facilitate potential participation in the state-awarded contracts.

On Feb. 12, Jackson-based CivilTech, a minority-owned business, was awarded a contract for the oversight and coordination of the design and construction of the water and wastewater system that is being done by Canton Municipal Utilities. CivilTech is part of the Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority engineering and construction team with overall management responsibility for the state commitments related to the Nissan project, said J.C. Burns, executive director of MDA and MMEIA, adding that the state is “delighted to see the project continue to progress at such a brisk pace.”

Earlier this month, after negotiations with two families stalled and the state’s final offer was rejected, Mississippi began eminent domain proceedings to acquire the final 27 acres of nearly 1,500 total acres needed for the Nissan plant site.

Nissan’s initial investment includes $690 million in equipment and $210 million in buildings. A $15-million training facility will also be built on the Nissan plant site.

The plant, with a capacity of 250,000 vehicles a year, will produce a full-size pickup truck, a full-size sport utility vehicle (SUV) and the next generation Nissan minivan. Initially, 3,300 people will be employed when the plant opens in May 2003, with a potential employment level of 4,000, with as many as 30,000 jobs in supporting industries. As many as 100 spin-off businesses are expected to crop up within 150 miles of Nissan.

So far, all deadlines have been met, said Dr. Buzz Canup, project director for the Nissan Implementation Team for MDA.

“That’s one thing about the automotive industry,” he said. “The start date never changes. The day that Nissan plans to roll the first vehicle out of the plant, believe me, it will roll out of the plant.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com or (601) 853-3967.


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