It’s no surprise that the union vote at Nissan’s manufacturing facility in Canton generated national headlines. This coverage culminated last week when workers voted 2,244 to 1,307 against the union. As I wrote in a recent column about millenials in Mississippi, there’s always another side to a story. I think one of the most compelling stories about Nissan has been overlooked. Using data-driven analysis, let’s examine that story.
Against all odds, Nissan in 2003 decided to come to Canton, Mississippi. Since then, the state has experienced tremendous prosperity, and Nissan Canton is a prime example of how an employer can fundamentally transform the community it calls home. In order to fully appreciate the extent of Nissan Canton’s impact in Mississippi, we have to start with a very simple question: What would Mississippi look like today without Nissan?
Here are a few facts that illustrate the magnitude of Nissan Canton’s value to the state that our research center examined in a report titled “Nissan Canton: A Catalyst for Advanced Automotive Manufacturing in Mississippi.”
Nissan Canton provides direct employment opportunities to more than 6,400 individuals and offers some of the best wages and benefits in the state. What’s most impressive is that 25,000 jobs have been created throughout the state as a result of Nissan’s presence. In fact, for every job at the Canton plant, an additional 2.9 jobs are created at suppliers and other businesses. What’s more, each year, the plant generates an estimated $300 million in state and local tax revenue and $2.6 billion in disposable income, and it contributes $2.9 billion to the state GDP.
The Canton plant has become a critical cog in Mississippi’s economy, and it has helped put the state on the national and international stage. Mississippi is now known for its automotive production and other types of advanced manufacturing. Seeing the sweeping success at Nissan Canton, one major company after another has chosen the Magnolia State for new production facilities, including Toyota, Airbus Helicopters, Steel Dynamics, PACCAR, Yokohama and Continental Tire.
Mississippi is globally competitive as an advanced manufacturing hub and it is recognized for its rapidly expanding automotive sector. Car and truck production is the fastest growing industry in Mississippi, with employment increasing more than 64% since 2010.
More than 18,000 people are directly employed by the automotive sector in the state. And these are quality jobs. At more than $50,000 annually, the average salary in Mississippi’s auto industry is substantially greater than the state average of $37,642.
Nissan’s impact has been particularly noticeable in Jackson. Between 2013 and 2015, the city had the third-highest growth in R&D and STEM advanced industry jobs among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas. Jackson saw stronger growth than numerous traditional centers of U.S. manufacturing, like Detroit and Cleveland. This success simply would not be possible without Nissan.
But we should also remember that much of the change Nissan has brought to Mississippi is intangible. It can’t wholly be measured in dollars and cents.
It’s the peace of mind a parent gets from knowing they are able to provide a good life for their children. It’s the sense of pride a worker experiences when Nissan’s tuition reimbursement program allows them to earn a college degree or credential.
Since the first day it opened its doors, our research confirms that Nissan has been a catalyst for prosperity and opportunity for people all over Mississippi. If Nissan had decided not to come to Canton in 2003, a significant part of Mississippi’s economic success story would be missing.
» Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi is executive director of the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) at Mississippi State University and a professor of sociology. Comments and questions are welcome at email@example.com or visit www.nsparc.msstate.edu.