SelectUSA Business Mission Showcases Mississippi's Charms

Jul 18, 2019

JETRO Houston organized a SelectUSA Business Mission on June 13th in Mississippi. This mission gave Japanese companies interested in the automobile industry the opportunity to hear presentations about the investment environment in northern Mississippi and tour local Japanese automobile factories. Eight participants from different companies attended the mission.

The event began with an information session in the morning at the Community Development Foundation (CDF) in Tupelo, MS. Carol Moore, Director of the Mississippi U.S. Export Assistance Center, welcomed the group and explained her organization’s role in strengthening trade.

Jamie Miller, Deputy Director for Government Affairs and Chief Innovation Officer for the Mississippi Development Authority, spoke about the strong presence of Japanese companies and investment in Mississippi.

Shane Homan, Senior Vice President of Economic Development Services for the CDF, illustrated the ease of logistics and the business-friendly taxation system in Mississippi and how his organization could help with environmental permits.

The final speaker, Kiyoshi Tsuchiya, the Executive Corporate Advisor of Auto Parts Manufacturing Mississippi, gave testimony of his time in Mississippi from the point-of-view of a Japanese company.

After the conclusion of the morning information session, the participants traveled from Tupelo to Blue Springs to visit Toyota Motor Manufacturing MS. This location is Toyota’s eighth automobile manufacturer in North America and produces the Corolla for North America. They have produced 1.1 million vehicles since they began production in 2011 and currently employ around 2,000 workers.

Kathryn Ragsdale, manager of corporate communications, explained their partnership with the local community college and their job training program. Presentations from Kathryn, in addition to presentations from Emily Lauder, Vice President of Administration, and Hiroki Ito, Treasurer of Cost Management, illustrated how Toyota was not just a beacon of productivity but also a pillar in the northern Mississippi community through their revitalization efforts.

After concluding the visit to Toyota, the group went to Columbus, MS to visit Paccar Engine Company. Paccar is an American company that produces truck engines; the Mississippi location produces 170 MX-11 and MX-13 engines each day. Before taking the group on a tour of the plant, Lance Walters, the plant manager, explained their company operates in Mississippi because of the abundance of incentives and the convenience of the highways for domestic transportation.

For their final visit, the group headed to West Point, MS to see Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi. They produce tires for trucks and buses in the North American market at a 500 acre facility. Takashi Maki, Senior Advisor in Administration, and Chairman Hikomitsu Noji also spoke to the group about why Mississippi was selected as their location. Mississippi’s excellent logistics, ease in obtaining environmental permits, growing workforce, and its unlikelihood for natural disasters made Mississippi a fantastic choice.

An information session in the morning at the Community Development Foundation in Tupelo, MS on June 13th.

Mission members at Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi in West Point, MS on June 13th.