JEFFERSON, Ga. - Toyota Industries Corp., joined by Gov. Roy Barnes and the consul general of Japan, announced Monday that it will bring high-paying jobs to Georgia's Jackson County with a $60 million manufacturing plant.
The plant is scheduled to start manufacturing air-conditioner compressors in 2005 and will initially create more than 120 jobs with an average salary of $60,000 a year, including benefits, according to Pepe Cummings, the president of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.
Toyota will invest between $60 million and $100 million in the plant, which will have the capability of doubling size and production.
A small crowd gathered Monday at the Jackson Electric Membership Corp. office in Jefferson, 20 miles northwest of Athens, for the official announcement. State Rep. Pat Bell, D-Jefferson, joined Mr. Barnes and Toshinao Urabe, the consul general of Japan for the Southeast, at the ceremony.
Mr. Barnes said more than 450 companies with headquarters in Japan have facilities in Georgia.
"Jackson County is making a bold move into the 21st century marketplace," he said.
Shozo Nakayama, the executive vice president of Toyota Industries Corp., gave a synopsis of his corporation, which was founded in 1927 and makes everything from car parts to forklifts. Toyota Motor Groups, the automotive giant, formed from Toyota Industries Corp. in 1937.
The air-conditioner compressors are used in dozens of car models, including vehicles built by BMW, Chrysler, Honda, Dodge and Toyota.
Scott Martin, the chairman of the Jackson County Industrial Development and Building Authority, said the industrial authority had been negotiating with Toyota about the plant location since August 2000.
Toyota, based in Kariya, Japan, looked at four states before choosing Jackson County. Toyota has two other U.S. plants - Michigan Automotive Compressor Inc. in Jackson, Mich., and Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing Inc. in Columbus, Ind.
The new plant is not part of the Toyota distribution center in Commerce, where workers install dealer options on already-made vehicles.
The new plant will be built on a 152-acre tract in Valentine Industrial Park, near the U.S. Highway 129 exit on Interstate 85 outside Pendergrass.
Mr. Cummings said construction will begin on the plant in the fall.
The plant will affect local economies in a 35-mile radius, including Clarke and Hall counties, he said.
Monday's ceremony was capped by a toast with Japanese sake and the presentation of crystal peach statues to Toyota representatives.
"What we're witnessing today is a beginning," Jackson County Commission Chairman Harold Fletcher said. "This is a new era, a new time. Great things are going to happen in Jackson County."