September 23, 2013 8:58:25 AM
On the eve of breaking ground on their new plant in Clay County, Yokohama Tire Company made another statement of commitment to the Golden Triangle area.
The global tire manufacturing giant announced plans to give $250,000 each to Mississippi State University and East Mississippi Community College Sunday.
On hand for the announcement were newly-named YTC Mississippi president Tadahuru Yamamoto, MSU president Mark Keenum, EMCC president Rick Young, Yokohama Rubber Company president Hikomitsu Noji and Mississippi governor Phil Bryant.
The official ground-breaking ceremony, which was not open to the public, was held at 9:30 a.m. today.
Yamamoto said he hopes the gift will assist the two institutions of higher learning in developing workforce training programs that would be instrumental in helping YTC Mississippi and other Golden Triangle area industry forward.
"This investment is very important for Yokohama," Yamamoto said. "With our project, economic development community assistance is definitely necessary. This memorandum is only the beginning of our contribution to the community."
Keenum said he wants to ensure MSU uses its resources and research to help make a difference in the company's success.
"It's a tremendous statement by Yokohama Tire to invest in the state's most comprehensive research university and recognizing the role that we have played up to this point in helping to attract them to locate here, but also recognizing the role we can play in the future in helping them be even more successful," Keenum said. "Taking advantage of the outstanding graduate students we produce and having them within such close proximity, I can foresee internships and co-op programs with our students working with the plant, but also with the outstanding research and scientists we have that are doing expansive high-tech automotive research on our campus today. All of that's tied together."
Young said Yokohama's choice to locate in Clay County is a "great honor" and hoped it would be the beginning of a long-term partnership with EMCC.
"The emphasis that Yokohama brings to education through their contribution shows they realize we must equip our students on the community college level, and the high school level as well, to give these young men and young women and also non-traditional students who are potential job holders the background and training they need at whatever level we must start that training on," Young said. "For some, it will be advanced manufacturing right off. For some, it will be developing basic skills and moving up the ladder to where they can be successful."
Bryant said the gift to MSU and EMCC is a symbol of long-term investment in the state as a whole.
"They realize this is going to be a 60-year, 80-year commitment, so it will be generational," Bryant said. "Fathers will see their sons and daughters work here. More importantly, it's realizing education is the important element in creating the success for this company and companies all over Mississippi."
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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