BLUE SPRINGS — Toyota Motor Corporation is keeping its commitment to supporting local schools, according to the Mississippi Development Authority.
When Toyota announced it would build a plant at Blue Springs in 2007, it made a commitment of $50 million to the eight school districts within Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties. Even though due to market conditions and a weak economy Toyota had delayed its plans to begin production at the Blue Springs plant, the company made the first of 10 annual installments — $5 million per year for 10 years — on time and as agreed upon three years ago.
“The fact that Toyota, even while its plant was on hold and had not started operating yet, kept its promise of funding educational opportunities for the residents of North Mississippi speaks volumes about the character and integrity of the company and its leadership,” Gov. Haley Barbour said.
The funds are administered by the Tupelo-based CREATE Foundation, and they are being used to provide advanced educational opportunities for the nearly 6,500 secondary education students residing in the area.
By choosing to give to the CREATE Foundation, Toyota is able to effectively invest in all of the area schools, and in April, CREATE Foundation officials and the Toyota Education Endowment Fund Advisory Committee announced plans to build The Center for Professional Futures.
The Center will introduce students to unique learning experiences that cannot be duplicated in a traditional high school classroom setting. Once students have completed certain introductory courses taught at their high schools, they will be eligible to take courses at the Center. The Center will provide these students with the opportunity to learn more about professional careers through classes in fields such as computer graphics and animation, pre-engineering, architecture, legal studies, advanced manufacturing and health science technology, all in a hands-on learning environment.
The $50-million endowment from Toyota will be used to provide the Center for Professional Futures with ongoing operating funds.
In order to construct the $35-million facility that will house the Center, the CREATE Foundation is seeking grants from the federal government and foundations across the country, as well as state and local capital funding. Clayborne estimates that construction of the Center will take approximately two years to complete once funding is secured.