By JACK WEATHERLY
Toyota announced Thursday it will invest $170 million in its Blue Springs plant and create 400 jobs to build the 12th generation Corolla.
The investment in the new Toyota New Global Architecture enables the assembly plant to stay competitive globally.
“We will be able to respond quicker and be more flexible in order to meet market demands down the road,” Toyota Mississippi President Sean Suggs, said in a news release. “I’m very proud of our team members and the partnerships we have developed across the state.”
Implementation of TNGA, along with an overall increase in production, will create 400 jobs during the next 12 months at the Blue Springs plant, which currently employs about 2,000. TNGA is a new approach to the way Toyota designs, engineers and produces its vehicles.
Suggs said the 400 new assembly workers are being hired by contract labor agency ResourceMFG over the next year, according to the Associated Press. They’ll make about $31,000 yearly to start, company spokeswoman Kathryn Ragsdale said. She said that after two years or more, those workers are likely to be offered a chance to become direct Toyota employees. Toyota’s 1,500 direct employees have wages between $36,600 and $53,600.
Toyota will provide enhanced work-force development training at its new visitor and training center, which was dedicated on Thursday. It is scheduled to open in November 2019.
The automaker’s $170 million investment is part Toyota’s plan to invest $10 billion in its U.S. facilities over the next five years.
A sizeable chunk of that $10 billion has been committed to a joint-venture plant between Mazda and Toyota in Huntsville, Ala.
Mississippi was one of several states in the running for the joint-venture plant, which in March the companies announced will create 4,000 jobs for manufacturing Corollas and a new Mazda SUV, and possibly later an electric vehicle.
The state of Alabama awarded the companies $370 million in incentives.
Mississippi is not offering help beyond the $323.9 million general obligation bond issue that helped launch the plant, according to the Mississippi Development Authority.
Also, Toyota received a rebate of a percentage of payroll for up to 10 years from the state.
The latest project will bring Toyota’s investment in the Blue Springs facility to more than $1 billion since 2007.
The company has made $4.27 billion of investments in the U.S. since 2017.
The $170 million investment in the Mississippi assembly plant will include a complete replacement of the current production lines, allowing the facility to produce advanced vehicles more efficiently and better adapt to changing market needs.
“For more than a decade, Toyota has been a valued corporate partner to Blue Springs and the state of Mississippi,” said Gov. Phil Bryant.“Toyota’s commitment to building a sense of community is illustrated by the company’s continued investment in its operations and philanthropic efforts throughout the region.
“This latest expansion and addition of hundreds of new jobs reinforces Toyota’s dedication to excellence in Blue Springs for generations to come.”
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