Hey, Toyota, check out Kalamazoo

Wow,

What an intereresting editorial in the Kalamazoo Gazette. I have copied the whole thing here – hope I don’t get slammed for copyright but can you imagine if Al Hogan put down his Ain’t Lord Great pen for a minute and wrote something like this for Moncton. I would personally send it to Toyota.

Hey, Toyota, check out Kalamazoo

The Kalamazoo Gazette
Wednesday, December 7, 2005

For decades, the Toyota Motor Co. has avoided Michigan as a place to build a North American auto plant.

The company, which has little taste for the kind of adversarial relationship that domestic automakers and the United Auto Workers historically have had, has preferred to locate manufacturing operations in states where labor unions have less clout.

Now we hear that Michigan is at the top of Toyota’s list as a place to build a new engine plant. But company executives are worried about what kind of reception it would face in Michigan, The Detroit News reported Tuesday.

If Toyota is concerned about its reception, we’d strongly recommend the carmaker consider southwestern Michigan — and, more specifically, Kalamazoo.
This area knows the value of manufacturing jobs and has a workforce eager for a good employer like Toyota.

And it is an educated workforce. We know that well-educated, highly skilled workers are extremely important to Toyota. It has been reported that among the reasons the company recently decided to locate a new plant in Ontario, Canada — despite the strong presence of the Canadian Auto Workers — is Canadian workers’ high level of education.

If Toyota wants to locate in a place that would make it easy for it to recruit well-educated, skilled workers, there perhaps are few better places than the Kalamazoo area — and even more so, now that The Kalamazoo Promise college tuition guarantee program has been launched. With a perk like The Kalamazoo Promise to offer to prospective employees, Toyota would have little difficulty attracting a stellar workforce.

The News said Toyota execs have visited three unidentified sites in Michigan and are getting ready to look at two more in the state. If Kalamazoo isn’t on the list of places being scouted, it should be added.

Why the apparent change of heart from Toyota? The company is getting to know this state better. The Toyota Technical Center is in Michigan. Toyota owns 23 percent of Denso Corp., an auto supplier, which has three plants in Michigan, including one in Battle Creek.

And it has been reported that Toyota execs were impressed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s visit to Japan earlier this year to pitch the state as a great place for investment.

Although the Kalamazoo area has been putting considerable effort into developing a local life-science sector, manufacturing is a vital part of this area’s economic mix. Our community has suffered through the slow demise of the local paper industry. The closing of the General Motors Corp. stamping plant in Comstock Township caused great pain for hundreds of local families.

A Toyota plant in southwestern Michigan, specifically in Kalamazoo, would be enthusiastically welcomed.

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