||Economic leader calls it "a slow build"
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — Hal Johnson is the former leader of the Upstate Alliance of South Carolina located in Greenville, South Carolina.
It's there that BMW has operated an automotive plant since the mid 1990's.
At Friday morning's Wake Up Tupelo and Lee County program, Johnson shared some of the similarities between his region and North Mississippi which is home to Toyota and several of its suppliers.
Johnson said, "You need to not stop just because you have the big one here. You have to continue to invest in yourself to make Tupelo a better place. You need to be on the lookout for suppliers and research opportunities. You always have to think about diversifying that manufacturing base and your workforce base."
CDF President and CEO David Rumbarger says it has been a slow but steady climb since Toyota first announced its move to north Mississippi.
Rumbarger said, "We're all ready for everything to happen all at once. It really is a slow build. We're on that path of progress we began in 2007."
Rumbarger also points to the numbers such as the recent ranking of Tupelo and Lee County as the number two micropolitan area in the country.
Rumbarger said, "They rank that on job investments and projects themselves."
The guest speaker reminded the crowd growth to the business landscape that companies like Toyota can bring is just one part of a growing a healthy community.
Johnson said, "There's a huge world out there with multiple cultures. Communities that are welcoming and accepting of those cultures will see investments from those cultures. It's not just the investment of companies coming here but people moving to our communities."
Johnson says that diversity of new people brings new ideas, and in turn, helps keep the community alive.