Our view: West Point and Yokohama say, 'I do'

September 24, 2013 10:16:31 AM



Monday was a perfect day for an outdoor wedding. 


That was the day Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi broke ground on the first phase of its $300-million facility in Clay County. 


The event featured many of the trappings you typically expect at ground-breaking ceremonies. There were the customary silver shovels and speeches filled with analogies. 


Of all the analogies, we found the one offered by Yokohama Tire Company President Hikomitso Noji, most appropriate. Noji likened the day's festivities to a wedding and the idea that Monday's ground-breaking is symbolic of a committed relationship built on mutual trust is especially appealing. 


It is particularly meaningful that Noji chose the wedding analogy since, unlike the U.S. where half of the marriages end in divorce, marriages are taken very seriously in Japan. In Japan, there is a permanence associated with marriage that is often lacking in the U.S. 


From Yokohama's perspective, the relationship between the company and the community will be built to last, something Link CEO Joe Max Higgins stressed early on in his negotiations with Yokohama. Higgins told them that four generations of Clay County residents had worked at Sara Lee Corporation before it closed in 2007 and promised that four generations would work at Yokohama should the company decided to locate there. 


At the risk of extending the wedding analogy too far, we suggest that while those who played a role in bringing Yokohama to Clay County were numerous, Higgins stands apart for his efforts. It was only natural, then, that Higgins would perform the ceremony Monday, a duty he performed flawlessly. 


And what is a marriage without vows?  


That duty was left to Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi President Tadahuru Yamamoto.  


"We promise to be good stewards of the resources you have extended us." Yamamota said. "We promise to contribute to the quality of life of your citizens through jobs and job satisfaction. We promise to be continually involved in your community now and in the long term." 


Perhaps as a symbol of commitment, Yokohama officials announced that they will plant trees in the area surrounding the new facility as part of the company's Forever Forest project, a world-wide commitment to plant 500,000 trees at Yokohama facilities by 2017. West Point mayor Robbie Robinson announced that citizens of the community will donate and plant 1,000 saplings for that cause. 


As weddings go, it was a pretty impressive affair, although there was one distinct difference between Monday's event and your typical wedding: Nobody cried at this wedding. 


Monday was a day for smiles.