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Toyota unveils Mississippi-built Corolla

Reported by: Tyler Hill
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Updated: 9/07/2013 9:33 pm
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - Over 9,000 people gathered at the BancorpSouth Arena to celebrate an important event for the automaker and the state.

The all-new, Mississippi-built 2014 Toyota Corolla made its debut at its line off ceremony.

Forty-seven years ago, it made its first debut, selling over 40 million units globally to date.

And now, the new Corolla makes its mark on Mississippi.

In fact, one could argue Mississippi made its mark on the Corolla.

"For it to be built here in Mississippi, it's the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of people doing really good things and showing what Mississippians can do and how positive and how strong our workforce is," said Miss. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves.

More than 9,000 team members, their families, suppliers and guest attended the local debut of the new vehicle, and it's something Toyota Division Vice President Bill Fay said he's anticipated for quite awhile.

"We've been really excited to add Mississippi," Fay said. "We're getting a great Corolla out of this whole team here, and we're really excited to really start selling this all new Corolla made by this Mississippi team."

Manufacturing Vice President Phil Rodi moved to Mississippi to help jump start the new plant and model.

"I was amazed to see the willingness from everyone to learn, and that makes our jobs much easier," Rodi said.

U.S. Congressman Alan Nunnelee said he wasn't surprised to hear that Toyota officials were pleased with the workers and the new plant.

"Manufacturing is the back bone of our economy," Nunnelee said. "It effects everything that happens throughout our state economy, so anytime we can showcase to the world what Mississippi men and women can do is a great thing."

Rodi said the Mississippi manufacturing plant in Blue Springs has a promising future.

"If we keep going at this rate, there will be a lot of discussion about future growth," Rodi said.

The Mississippi Toyota plant employs 2,000 people and has five "near-site" suppliers that employs another 1,300.

The 2014 Corolla arrived in dealer showrooms last week.
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