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Area lawmakers: Nissan plant could help local economy

By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
June 29, 2002
Area legislators say it's still too early to tell how a $1.43 billion Nissan auto plant in Madison County including a recently announced $500 million expansion will affect East Mississippi.
But, they said, they remain optimistic that it will attract spin-off industries, lure new jobs and catch the attention of other manufacturers that might be looking for a place to expand.
Construction on the Nissan Motor Co. plant, just off Interstate 55 North, began last year. The plant is expected to open next summer and ultimately employ about 5,300 people.
Nissan originally planned to build a minivan, a full-size pickup truck, and sport utility vehicle. After state lawmakers approved $63 million in incentives last week, Nissan said it also would build the Altima sedan in Mississippi.
Burton said that East Mississippi could attract spin-off industry, such as parts and distribution businesses, that would create 100 to 300 jobs.
State Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, said all it takes is for one major manufacturer to open the door for more development just like in Tennessee and Alabama.
Snowden said some people have speculated if East Mississippi's labor force is large enough and sufficiently trained to support a major manufacturer's demands.
However, he said, "I have to believe that if we got good-paying, quality manufacturing jobs, and if it's a big enough project, it will attract workers."
State Sen. Videt Carmichael, R-Meridian, and a former educator, said he believes in the area's work force.
Carmichael said his focus is on attracting industry to East Mississippi. But with Nissan, he said, "what's good for Mississippi is good for us."