Nissan Announces Suppliers for Its Madision County Plant


Nissan North America Inc. has named nine suppliers committed to invest $114 million in Mississippi and play major roles in the automaker's totally integrated assembly plant in Madison County.

Nissan said Tuesday the companies will create 1,000 new jobs to supply parts and components to its plant under construction in Canton. Seven plants will be built within two miles of Nissan's E-shaped, 2-million-square-foot facility.

Another new plant will ship parts from Vicksburg. Two of the suppliers are from Mississippi. A few of the out-of-state firms have long business ties with Nissan.

``These investments show that Mississippi is a great place to do business, and Mississippi-owned suppliers can compete with anyone, anywhere,'' said Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, who joined Nissan executives, representatives of the automotive suppliers and other state and local officials at a Capitol news conference.

Nissan officials said it was too early to say how many other suppliers would be needed, but the companies named Tuesday will do business with many other smaller, so-called ``tier-2'' suppliers. The first suppliers will begin building their plants totaling 800,000 square feet by the end of the year.

Nissan senior vice president Emil Hassan said the automaker will use the latest in manufacturing systems that will allow components to reach the assembly line as they're needed. Some of the parts will travel by conveyer from the nearby suppliers to the $930 million plant, which is scheduled to open in 2003.

The plant will produce Nissan's first full-size pickup truck and a new minivan and larger sport utility vehicle. ``We'll place a major emphasis on having suppliers assemble and deliver modules and components in the same sequence as the vehicles produced on our production lines,'' Hassan said.

Three of the suppliers are minority-owned companies, including the two from Mississippi. Lextron/Visteon Automotive Systems and Systems Electro-Coating are both based in Jackson. Systems Electro-Coating is a joint venture between Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries Inc. and Systems Consultants Associates Inc. in Jackson. The company will apply anticorrosion primer to sheet-metal components from a 125,000-square-foot plant it will build in the Canton Industrial Center.

Lextron/Visteon Automotive Systems, a partnership between Jackson-based Lextron Corp. and Visteon Corp. in Detroit, will make front-end and cockpit modules from a 97,500-square-foot facility it will build adjacent to Nissan.

Charles Doty, president and chief executive of Lextron Corp., said his company has built ignition systems for the Corvette and other parts for General Motors for the past 11 years. He said the new venture will require him to double his existing work force of 180. ``I always wanted to stay in Mississippi to make my mark in life,'' Doty said. ``I'm excited about the opportunities that lie before us.''

Hassan said he was pleased with the creative partnerships and diverse mix of the first suppliers. ``With this announcement, we're confirming some of the goals we talked about at the supplier conference we held in February,'' he said. ``At that time, we said we wanted to work with high-quality, competitive suppliers. We also said we're committed to a diverse supply base, and these companies reflect that approach.''

The Madison County plant will employ 3,300 workers to start  some 20 of whom are already on the payroll. The company has said the bulk of the jobs will be production-related and start at $13.25 an hour. Hassan said it was too early to say how much the suppliers would pay their employees. ``They'll be competitive, but I don't think they'll pay the same wage as Nissan,'' he said.