Governor is confident auto industry can come out on top - - Jackson, MS

Governor is confident auto industry can come out on top

By Ashley Conroy - email

Jackson, MS (WLBAT) - The automotive industry has been hit hard in the down economy, but Governor Haley Barbour as well as several auto and economic leaders met at the Mississippi College School of Law on Friday to come up with a resolution.

The symposium was set up as a goal oriented discussion for panel members to discuss bringing new and innovative ideas to Mississippi

For instance, like bringing "green" cars to the state and increasing productivity in fuel efficiency. 

Some of the panel members consisted of Governor Haley Barbour, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG, Dr. Manfred Bischoff from Germany, Vice-President Administration of Toyota Manufacturing, Mississippi, Inc, and President of the Mississippi Economics Council, Blake Wilson.

The audience had the chance to ask questions silently through a piece of paper given to a moderator.

One of the questions was about the Toyota plant in Tupelo and when operation would begin. The Governor said first a better highway system would have to built.

"And I promise you Toyota will be making cars there before MDOT will be building these highways," Barbour said while the audience and panel members laughed.

President of the Mississippi Economic Council Blake Wilson says this is part of why Mississippi needs to boost its productivity level.

"We've got to become not just a cheap labor source we've got to also become a developmental source."

Many of the questions were directed towards Dr. Manfred Bischoff. Bischoff was an exchange student in Jackson years ago, and is an international leader in the automotive industry.

"We have to develop electric mobility, electric mobility has two possibilities on today's technology basis," Dr. Bischoff said.

He commended the state and the people and for its progress through the decades.

"The people in Mississippi keep up with the things they have been renowned for in the world, which is their hospitality, their friendliness, their work ethic. Working hard, trying to achieve something, I think they can compete successfully with everybody in the world."

As for the Governor, he would like to see the automotive industry partner with universities and colleges throughout the state to get students interested in potential job opportunities.

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