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Lott hints auto industry still eying Mississippi

By Staff
From staff and wire reports
Aug. 17, 2001
JACKSON Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott hinted Thursday that the nation's automobile manufacturers may make more investments in Mississippi.
Without getting into details, we're proud of Nissan but we have at least three other automobile manufacturers that are looking at Mississippi in one form or another,'' said Lott, R-Miss.
I think we're in pretty good position to get at least one.''
Lott spoke Thursday at a meeting of the Metro Jackson Chamber of Commerce.
Lott's comments came more than a week after leaders with East Mississippi Business Development Corp. said they have been courting an automotive supplier to fill the vacant Delco Remy America building.
Officials wouldn't name the company; they also didn't say if it would supply the Mercedes plant in Vance, Ala., or the Nissan plant in Canton. If the company moves to Meridian, they said it would create between 230 and 300 jobs that pay an average of $14 an hour.
Nissan Motor Co.'s $930 million assembly plant in Madison County is scheduled to open in 2003. It is expected to employ about 4,000 people.
Mississippi economic development officials have said Nissan's decision to come to the state has attracted interest from other companies in the automotive and its service industries.
Lott said that he would like to create a Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems. The center would be associated with Mississippi State University.
He also said the money used for the facility would also provide for an engineering extension facility in Madison County.
Clay Coggins of Coggins &Associates said the fact that the state could even be considered a force in the automobile industry is exciting.
I'm elated,'' he said. It will establish Mississippi as a real contender in the United States.''
In an interview with The Associated Press immediately afterwards, Lott addressed another ongoing state issue the Ingalls Shipbuilding's cruise ship project.
Lott said he spoke over the last two days to Northrop Grumman president and CEO Kent Kresa and Jerry St. Pe', head of the ship's system division in Pascagoula.
They feel good that things are being worked out and that they are going to move forward with that contract without there being any type of loan forfeiture,'' he said.
Lott said he was glad that Northrop Grumman Ingalls and American Classic Voyages Co. was working through a solution on the building of the country's largest cruise ship.
The project, began in June 2000, is the first such endeavor in the country in more than 40 years.