Archive

Archive for the ‘Manufacturing’ Category

Merry Christmas from Magnolia Marketplace

December 22nd, 2009 No comments

Apologies for the extended neglect of the blog. With the Holidays switching up the schedule here at the MBJ, we’ve had to cram two work weeks into one. That’s not a complaint, because it means we’re getting a few days off to do the Christmas routines, watch bowl games, drink eggnog and watch more bowl games.

Big things happened in 2009. Some good, some not good, some pretty bad. We took a look back in this week’s edition. Next week, we’ll look forward with some predictions for 2010 from some of the state’s business and political experts. There’s a surprise or two in there. Look for it.

In that vein, some personal predictions from Magnolia Marketplace:

• The legislative session that starts in a couple weeks will be wild and woolly.

• And despite what each party’s leadership says now, the state’s budget for fiscal year 2011 will not be done by the end of March, though we’d love to be proven wrong.

• No state agency will be happy with its appropriation for FY2011.

• In fact, many agency heads will cry bloody murder.

• Gov. Haley Barbour’s proposal to merge the three HBCUs into one will get absolutely nowhere in the Legislature, but that’s not going out on much of a limb.

• The Congressional campaign between Republican State Sen. Alan Nunnelee and Travis Childers, the Democrat from Booneville who represents the First District, will be a humdinger, with the national committees from each party pouring lots of money into it.

• The tone of the campaign will be exceedingly nasty.

• Toyota will announce it is ready to move forward with the Blue Springs plant.

• By this time next year, we’ll have a much clearer picture of the gubernatorial candidates for 2011, particularly on the Democratic side.

• On Jan. 2, Jevan Snead will throw at least one interception in the Cotton Bowl.

• Magnolia Marketplace will hit the ceiling when he does.

To you and yours, Merry Christmas. We’ll see you Dec. 28.

Report: Toyota to resume work on Blue Springs plant, open it in spring 2011

December 4th, 2009 No comments

The Nikkei, the Japanese version of the Wall Street Journal, is reporting that Toyota plans to resume construction of the plant in Blue Springs, with the hopes of opening it in the spring of 2011. The plant will initially produce the compact Corolla cars, and start producing the hybrid Prius later.

Details are here. Magnolia Marketplace is burning up the phone lines, and we’ll have a story on the site soon.

UPDATED AT 1:35 P.M.: Toyota is now denying the Nikkei report. Spokeswoman Barbara McDaniel tells the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that “nothing is decided” but that the company remains committed to opening the Blue Springs facility.

So, after several minutes of burning up the phone lines and getting excited for the folks in North Mississippi, turns out it was a false alarm. For now.

Party switching, number crunching (and special sessioning?)

November 5th, 2009 No comments

After the press conference where seven Simpson County politicos announced that they preferred Elephants to Donkeys, Magnolia Marketplace and a few other media outlets got a few minutes to ask Gov. Haley Barbour some questions.

I’m sure he was thrilled.

Anyway, Barbour reported nothing new about the will-there-or-won’t-there surrounding the special session to deal with incentives for an advanced manufacturing company, presumably a German maker of steel pipes, to build a $300 million facility and create 500 jobs in the Delta, presumably Tunica County.

Barbour did not reveal the name of the company. He did say that it was dealing with “an external issue” that was not related to the agreement between it and the state. He did not elaborate.

“They’re making progress,” he said of the company. “We’re not going to call a special session until that’s fully resolved. I don’t see any problem. I don’t think it’s going to be very long.”

With October’s revenue almost 7 percent below estimates, Barbour will be forced to cut the FY10 budget a second time pretty soon. He is meeting with the Joint Legislative Budget Committee this afternoon, where the JLBC is expected to present a revenue estimate for the remainder of FY10, which ends June 30, 2010.

“There’s no question in my mind that we’re going to need at least $200 million more in reductions in spending this fiscal year,” said Barbour, who cut $172 million from the budget in September.

Making that an even more difficult task, Barbour said, is the state law that says no agency’s budget can be cut more than 5 percent until every agency has been cut at least 5 percent.

“We will continue to have to make significant cuts.”

Budgets notwithstanding, this has been a pretty good week for Barbour. He’s the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and the GOP won two pretty important gubernatorial races Tuesday in Virginia and New Jersey. President Barack Obama carried both those states – New Jersey by 15 percent – last November.

Barbour compared Tuesday’s elections to those of 1993, in which New Jersey and Virginia both elected GOP chief executives. Those races, Barbour said today, served as a springboard to the 1994 Contract with America, in which Republicans took control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Barbour was chairman of the Republican National Committee at the time.

“In the same way, I believe these elections the day before yesterday, where Republicans won and won handily, shows that the American people are not happy with the policies that (Obama’s) administration is pursuing,” Barbour said. “They think there’s too much spending and too much debt.”

Speaking of presidential politics, a reporter from a Jackson television station asked Barbour if he harbored any plans to run for president in 2012, a question Barbour gets often. He responded that he was focused on next year’s Congressional races, in which Republicans will try to party like it’s 1994.

When the reporter pressed him on his gameplan as far as running for the White House, Barbour said he “had no plan to,” which is a long way from slamming the door on the possibility.


Special session may be off for good

November 3rd, 2009 No comments

Rumors are swirling this morning that the German manufacturer of steel pipes that wants to build a $300 million facility, and create 500 jobs, in Tunica is having trouble securing financing.

Separate sources in the House and Senate have said it was their understanding that there would be no special session any time soon, if ever, to deal with incentives for the company, whose name has not been officially released by Gov. Haley Barbour’s office. Barbour announced two weeks ago that there would be a special session last week but those plans were put on hold. Barbour said in announcing the postponement that the hang-up was not related to the deal between the company and the state.

Barbour spokesman Dan Turner had no comment this morning.

No special session this week? (Updated)

October 28th, 2009 No comments

Magnolia Marketplace just got off the phone with one lawmaker who doesn’t plan to be in Jackson Friday for a special session to deal with a manufacturer who plans to build a facility in the Delta. According to speculation, a German maker of steel pipes would like to build a $300 million plant in Tunica, creating 500 jobs.

Gov. Haley Barbour announced last week at the Mississippi Economic Council’s Hobnob that he would call legislators to Jackson this week to offer the company a state-backed incentive package. Barbour has said state incentives would represent no more than 10 percent of the total cost of the project.

“That is correct,” said one lawmaker, who requested anonymity, when asked if the special session had been delayed. “The deal isn’t dead. They’re still trying to make it work, but it won’t be in time for anything to happen this week.” The lawmaker added the hold-up did not originate from the state or county level, but from the company.

Barbour spokesman Dan Turner would not comment.

Updated at 12:03 p.m. : A source who had just been briefed on the situation said it was a “coin flip” as to whether there would be a special session Friday.

Updated again at 1:12 p.m. : Barbour has just released a statement confirming that there will be no special session this week. In the statement, Barbour said the issue was not between the state and the company. Here is the full text of his statement:

The Special Session planned for Friday, October 30, has been postponed due to a technical issue unrelated to the proposed agreement between the company and the State.

“The company needs additional time to complete its preparations for executing the project, and we expect to call the Legislature in for a brief Special Session as soon as these preparations are complete.

“It is this Administration’s policy not to present projects to the Legislature until all details are finalized, even if the unresolved point is not between the company and the state.”

Barbour confirms special session for next week

October 21st, 2009 15 comments

Gov. Haley Barbour confirmed at the Mississippi Economic Council’s Hobnob this morning that he will call lawmakers to Jackson for a special session late next week to deal with an economic development project in the Delta. The project, Barbour said, is a $300 million advanced manufacturing deal that will crete 500 jobs. He didn’t offer any other details.

Obviously, the first thing that leaped to Magnolia Marketplace’s mind was GreenTech, the Chinese start-up that wants to build hybrid cars in Tunica. The job count or the cost Barbour announced doesn’t match, though. GreenTech’s first phase will cost $1 billion, according to the company, and create 1,500 jobs.

Speculation after Barbour’s announcement centered around some sort of steel manufacturing facility. Really, without somebody coming out and saying it, it will be hard to tell exactly what Barbour has up his sleeve. But Magnolia Marketplace is sure going to try to find out.

Updated at 1:02 p.m. : Just wrapped up a conversation with a source who requested anonymity, and who said that all signs point toward an automotive-related project in Tunica, but not GreenTech. Rather, the source said, an auto parts manufacturer is planning to set up shop. There were no details available as to the name of the company or if it was affiliated with either of the state’s current automotive manufacturers, Nissan or Toyota.

Special session on the way?

October 20th, 2009 No comments

Magnolia Marketplace has had a hard time getting anybody in state government to acknowledge the existence of GreenTech Automotive, the hybrid car manufacturer that has plans to build a facility in Tunica. Getting a comment on the record, to this point, has been impossible.

That trend continued this afternoon. There have been whispers the past few days that there was a special session in the works whose call would include GreenTech. Dan Turner, spokesman for Gov. Haley Barbour, said he had heard of some “discussions” regarding a special session but would not confirm or deny whether the agenda, which Barbour would control, would include GreenTech. For that matter, Turner did not confirm or deny there would even be a special session.

“There’s just not much I can tell you,” he said.

So that’s where we are. Magnolia Marketplace will be at the Mississippi Economic Council’s annual Hobnob tomorrow. Barbour is scheduled to speak. We’ll ask him about it then.

More layoffs at Viking Range

October 19th, 2009 4 comments

The Viking Classic tees off next week at Annandale Golf Club in Madison, an event that brings a lot of positive exposure to Greenwood-based Viking Range.

That’s about the extent of the good news, though. The Greenwood Commonwealth newspaper reported in its Friday edition that Viking has laid off 30 more workers in an effort to cut costs. The company has been hit pretty hard by the downturn in new housing construction.

Overall, the Commonwealth reports, Viking has cut 327 jobs, or about 23 percent of its total workforce, since April 2008. This will add to Leflore County’s already bleak unemployment situation. In August, the latest month for which figures are available, 12.2 percent of the county’s population did not hold a job.

For the full story, click here.

Categories: Manufacturing, News, Viking Range Tags:

Toyota slashing production

August 26th, 2009 3 comments

And a good Wednesday morning to all. The college football season kicks off in eight — eight! — days. That’s a week and a day. Take out the weekend, and really it’s only six days. Magnolia Marketplace is boldly going out on a limb and declaring that football season will be here in less than a week. Spread the word.

On to not-so-happy news. Toyota has confirmed rumors that started popping up yesterday that it plans to cut worldwide production by about 10 percent. With sales slumping, the company has a production surplus and will idle plants in the U.S. and overseas. Best I can tell, the only American facility affected is the one in Northern California Toyota once shared with General Motors. It will close, which is no big surprise because the move had been rumored for weeks.

How does this affect Mississippi? Well, it probably does nothing to speed the process of opening the Prius Hybrid (or whatever is hopefully, maybe, eventually built there) plant in Blue Springs. It doesn’t make any sense to slash global production by a significant number and open a new facility at the same time.

Mississippi’s other automotive manufacturer has news of its own. Nissan is retrofitting about 60 of its “tugs” at its Smyrna, Tenn., plant with methanol fuel cells. The tugs, which look like mini forklifts, shuttle parts and materials from one part of the facility to another. The fuel cells replace regular batteries, are more energy efficient and require fewer man hours to replace. Details are here. Smyrna is the guinea pig for this technology. The release doesn’t mention anything about the Canton plant. I have a call in to a Nissan North America spokesman to see if this technology will eventually make its way down here. When I hear from him, I’ll post an update.

Updated at 11:20 a.m. : Just got off the phone with a Nissan spokesman, who said the methanol fuel cells will undergo a three-year trial run in Smyrna to gauge their viability. If the company is pleased with the results, there is a possibility the technology will expand into other facilities, including the Canton plant.

Categories: Manufacturing, News, Nissan, Toyota Tags: