BELDEN, Miss. (WTVA) -- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi and four area community colleges will be launching a new education initiative, a program that will use the resources of both to educate students for the future.
"If manufacturing becomes more technical in nature -- the machinery becomes more technical, more complicated -- then what you really have to have in order to grow your business is a pool of highly technical, skilled people," Toyota Vice President For Administration David Copenhaver said.
The Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program gives students the chance to take two days of classroom instruction in Belden and three days of hands-on experience at Toyota's Blue Springs plant, which they'll be paid for.
The goal here for those involved: make north Mississippi's industrial work force stronger.
"This partnership with Toyota, where they are funding a person to be in class to earn a technical degree in a specific skill is job security," Itawamba Community College President David Cole said. "It's also job security for Toyota because it guarantees them a long-term, reliable, advanced technology work force."
It's a partnership that doesn't just include ICC, though.
Three other community colleges will be able to take advantage and in the current economic climate, many say that's essential to improving the state's well-being.
"It's impossible today for any region of the country to grow without investment. This is a case where we invest Mississippi dollars, and we invite our partners like Toyota and others to invest their dollars here, too. The two together are much more significant that what any of us could do alone," Northeast Mississippi Community College President Johnny Allen said.
Education officials also agree it's also a continuation of the commitment Toyota initially made toward education in north Mississippi, even if those who train under this new program don't end up working for the automaker.
In all, 20 scholarships will be available for those who meet certain criteria.
Those who complete the five-semester program will receive an associate degree.