Once again, chance favors the prepared megasite. Until recently, the PUL-Alliance Wellspring property was among the available megasites listed by the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Economic Development division. But now if you try to review the listing on the TVA’s web site, you will discover that the link has been removed. In its place is a big red label that says “SOLD.” That’s because in February 2007, Toyota North America announced it had chosen a 1,700-acre site in Blue Springs, Mississippi to build its eighth North American vehicle assembly plant.
The new plant represents a $1.3 billion investment by Toyota and is expected to create approximately 2,000 new jobs for the region and indirectly create work for many more. Operations at the plant will include stamping, body weld, plastics, paint and assembly. Production is scheduled to begin by 2010 in the new plant. It will have the capacity to build 150,000 vehicles annually of Toyota’s popular Highlander sport utility vehicle.
Toyota manufacturing Executive Vice President Ray Tanguay, said, “The partnership of [state and local officials and the private sector] was instrumental to our decision, including the creation of a new rail district to provide competitive rail access for the plant.” The many partners that made the project a reality included the State of Mississippi; the Pontotoc, Union, Lee (PUL) Alliance; the Community Development Foundation; the TVA and several TVA distributor customers; the North Mississippi Industrial Development Association; and the Three Rivers Planning and Development District. Tanguay added that the area’s existing companies had high praise for the workforce. “They were definitely the best salespeople.”