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franklin county times

Nissan executive: Trained, educated workforce essential

By Staff
From staff reports
October 18, 2004
CHOCTAW Education and business are partners for the future and must work ever more closely to teach students what to expect in the "real world," a senior Nissan executive said here today.
Speaking to more than 200 educators at a Mississippi Association of Colleges conference, James Morton, senior vice president for administration and finance at Nissan North America, drew an analogy between automotive manufacturing and football.
Morton keynoted the opening of the MAC conference today at the Pearl River Resort; it is sponsored by Meridian Community College, whose president, Dr. Scott Elliott, serves as association president, and East Central Community College.
On Nissan specifically, Morton said the company's $1.4 billion Canton plant will eventually produce 400,000 vehicles a year. The plant already employs 4,200 and 1,700 contract employees with an annual payroll of $250 million, and more than two dozen suppliers have already started operations in the area to support Nissan's presence.
By 2010, he said, the state of Mississippi estimates that Nissan and its suppliers will account for an estimated 32,000 total jobs direct and indirect and generate more than $900 million in total personal income in the state.
Mississippi provided Nissan with about $363 million in direct incentives, he said. "In return, the Southern Legislative Conference has projected that by 2010 the plant will generate almost $400 million in Madison County taxes and $300 million in state taxes each year."
Morton said studies have confirmed that for every new manufacturing job in an automobile plant, six additional jobs are created.
Morton said every manufacturer seeks basic physical requirements when reviewing potential sites "a large tract of available land with good railroad and highway access; infrastructure, including adequate water, sewer, electric and gas services; supportive state and local governments; a climate that won't cost you lost workdays; and, quality of life issues for your eventual workforce.
Morton said Nissan jobs in Canton pay more than 150 percent of the Mississippi state average salary. "And I'm even more pleased that our partnerships with the Mississippi development groups and the state's community colleges, colleges and universities have helped to make sure our Canton workforce has been trained and ready when they joined the Nissan team. But, he said, much more work needs to be done.
Morton said the same is true for four-year and postgraduate programs in terms of preparing engineering students for the world outside of the classroom.
All educational institutions, not just in Mississippi need to address student expectations and employee work ethic.

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