Toyota Supplier Boshoku Resumes HiringBy Lawayne Childrey | Published 05 Dec 2010 09:14am |
Back in June, Toyota announced it was resuming hiring for its Blue Springs Corolla plant. Now, as Sandra Knispel reports from Mantachie, suppliers for the Japanese automaker have begun to follow suit with 250 new jobs in Itawamba County.
With the foot finally off the break pedal, Toyota’s suppliers are getting ready to hire in Northeast Mississippi to start production next fall.
"Expect to be part of this for the rest of your lives in Itawamba County because Boshoku and the other things that are spun off by Toyota are going to be enormously important for generation of north Mississippians,” Governor Haley Barbour told the audience on Friday at the new Toyota Boshoku facility.
Their voices reverberating in the still empty 400,000 plus square foot production facility near Mantachie, Itawamba Agricultural High School students opened the celebrations. Nearly three years ago, Boshoku held its groundbreaking ceremony here, shortly before the global financial crisis triggered a worldwide recession, causing first Toyota and then its suppliers to slam on the breaks. Masaki Katsuragi is the CEO of Toyota Boshuko America, one Toyota’s main suppliers for its nearby Blue Springs plant.
“At that time we had to adapt to these changes in order to survive and to see another day. That day has come today,” Katsuragi said.
Thousands of workers in the region have lost their employment in recent years when low-skilled furniture industry jobs moved overseas, or their companies simply folded. Two years ago, Chad Graham was one of them. As of October, he has a new job here at Toyota Boshoku, which will manufacture seats, door panels and sun visors for the Toyota Corolla.
“I was laid off in Sept. ’08 and then I went back to school," Graham said. "I lack about a few days finishing my two-year degree and I will be ready to go full time. It hit all at the right time.”
Graham represents the ideal that policy makers have been pursuing for years: the move away from low skilled, low paid to high-skilled, higher paid jobs by way of retraining. Graham is one of Boshoku's furst 43 employees. By the fall of next year, the company plans to have hired 250 people total. That’s roughly only one half of the jobs originally promised – but that was back in 2007 when Toyota was still planning to build the Highlander SUV in Mississippi and not the smaller Corolla. But the supplier is planning ahead.
“The next model comes in 2013 so with that new model the production process will probably change and the opportunity for additional jobs will increase at that time,” Boshoku senior manager Todd Sousa said.
Half a dozen more Toyota suppliers are expected to announce hiring shortly, which can't come early enough for the region.
Sandra Knispel, MPB News
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