September 19, 2013 10:17:59 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
As Yokohama officials prepare to break ground on a Clay County tire manufacturing plant next Monday, behind-the-scenes work has been taking place to get the project started on the right foot, Golden Triangle Development Link and West Point officials said.
During the Link's quarterly luncheon Wednesday, Yokohama Mississippi President Tadaharu Yamamoto was on hand to introduce himself to guests as Link CEO Joe Max Higgins explained the progress made on and off the project site.
"Construction of the parking lot that will serve as a trailer city to put the contractors in is nearly done," Higgins said. "This is the calm before the storm. Just because you don't see anything happening doesn't mean there's not things happening."
West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson said the city has selected a bid from Texas-based Landmark Structures to construct the plant's water tank. Later this month West Point selectmen will open sealed bids for installation of water and sewer capabilities. In addition to helping finance those facets of the project, the city will provide fire services to the plant. Clay County will finance other infrastructural components, including road and rail spur construction.
"Our selectmen are a positive group of people," Robinson said. "They've worked together and are a great team. We want to see this job and this company complete."
Higgins provided updates on future developments related to the Yokohama project, including evaluation of adjacent parcels and gauging business interest near the plant as construction of its first phase ensues.
"We will start marketing and trying to identify who might be the appropriate customer to be across the street from Yokohama, down the road from Yokohama, with Yokohama's input, as to what companies they would like to see (close to them)," Higgins said.
Yamamoto and other company representatives have been visiting the Golden Triangle area this week touring various manufacturing facilities in the region, according to a press release issued by the Link.
The tire manufacturing plant's first phase, which is expected to create 500 jobs, is slated to open in October 2015. At full capacity, the plant will have the capability to produce a million tires a year. All four phases of the plant are slated for completion by 2023.
Yokohama management have located at the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park at Mississippi State University while the first phase of construction takes place.
The plant will be at the Prairie Belt Powersite, which the Link helped develop prior to luring the Japanese tire manufacturing firm to Clay County.
Yokohama will invest $1.2 billion -- $300 million for each phase -- while the state has committed $130 million, including $70 million in the form of general obligation bonds for the first phase.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.