Toyota is celebrating a somewhat important milestone this month. As of April 2017, the car maker has been producing vehicles here in the United States at their Toyota Mississippi plant for ten years. Yay! Blow up the balloons and call the clown! Order the cake and high-five the hard working Americans who have made this celebration possible.
Those would be normal reactions to celebrating a ten-year anniversary of a car plant. A modest decision. The fiscally conservative choice in an unstable economy. Toyota, as it turns out, is anything but normal.
During the celebration at its Blue Springs manufacturing plant in Mississippi, Toyota proudly announced plans to build a $10 million interactive visitor center. Once built, the facility will showcase how the Toyota Corolla is built via public tours and interactive displays.
Sean Suggs is the vice president of manufacturing for Toyota Mississippi, and was the person who made the official announcement during the celebration. Suggs explained that, “This investment will allow us to build an interactive visitor and training center that will spotlight the Corolla’s rise to the best-selling car in the world, as well as delve into the history of Toyota and our Blue Springs facility. It represents a continued commitment to our team members and the Northeast Mississippi community.”
Construction on the large 15,000 square-foot visitor center will begin in late 2018 and is expected to open in mid-2019.
In case you are one of those people who simply can’t imagine waiting a full two years before seeing the inside of the Mississippi-based plant – fear not! Toyota is expecting plenty of people just like you, which is why they are planning to offer plant tours starting on May 1 of 2017. That’s right! It’s your lucky day! You can be one of the very first members of the general public to walk the floors of the 1,700-acre plant. Book your Blue Springs, Mississippi hotel now, before it fills up!
But seriously, this is all real. Starting in just a few short weeks, Toyota will begin touring groups of people that are just dying to see how the Corolla is manufactured. The Governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, is as thrilled over this announcement as Toyota is. It’s not surprising that the man in charge of the state’s economic health and future would be gung-ho over additional revenue streams brought in by Toyota. Governor Bryant said in a recent statement that, “Since announcing it would locate this state-of-the-art facility in Mississippi, Toyota has continued to place our state and thriving automotive industry on the global stage. The new visitor and training center will allow people from around the world to witness first-hand the numerous reasons the world’s best-selling vehicle is made right here in Mississippi.”
As much as I would love for Bryant’s dream to become reality – I can’t help but think this guy is headed for major disappointment when “people from around the world” don’t start booking flights and extended hotel stays to walk through a car plant. But, hey! Who am I to say what people from around the world are and aren’t interested in? I suppose we will have to wait until mid-2019 to find out! Stay tuned!