Toyota Spends $170 Million to Add 400 Jobs at U.S. Corolla Plant

(Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. plans to hire 400 workers and invest $170 million to build its next-generation Corolla compact at an underutilized factory in Mississippi.

The plant now employs 2,000 full-time, temporary and contract workers making 155,000 Corollas a year, Sean Suggs, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi said in an interview. With the expanded workforce at the factory in Blue Springs, near Tupelo, Suggs is hoping to meet or exceed the 170,000-vehicle annual output for which the plant was designed.

The investment is part of a $10 billion, five-year commitment Toyota made in 2017 to upgrade and expand its U.S. manufacturing footprint. The company announced this pledge days after then-President-elect Donald Trump criticized its plans to invest in Mexico.

“Building where we sell – that is one of our philosophies,’’ Suggs said. “Now it’s our turn to talk about and show what we can do.”

About half of the 1,700 acres on which the Blue Springs plant is located is vacant, but it’s available if Toyota ever decides to install a second assembly line, said Suggs, who has also worked for Nissan Motor Co. in the state. A successful launch of the next-generation Corolla next year could help convince Toyota management the Blue Springs workforce is ready for such an expansion, he said.

“We’ve been building up a really good resume of manufacturing excellence,’’ Suggs said. “That’s been our goal.’’

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