TUNICA COUNTY – Renowned for growing cotton and building casinos, Tunica County soon will make a name for manufacturing cars.
GreenTech Automotive Inc.’s Chinese owner on Tuesday announced plans to bring one of the most ambitious manufacturing and economic development projects in recent history to the Mid-South.
The Mississippi-based startup automobile company owned by Xiaolin (zhee-OW-lin) “Charles” Wang will build a hybrid-automotive plant on 1,500 acres at a rural Tunica County megasite, not too far from the casinos that breathed new life into the area beginning in the 1990s.
With an initial price tag of $1 billion, the project’s first phase is expected to create 1,500 jobs and produce 150,000 vehicles a year beginning in 2012.
Plans call for a later expansion of the plant to 4,500 jobs and more than 250,000 vehicles annually. No square footage of the initial plant was given at a Tuesday press conference.
Wang said the Tunica County site is a perfect fit for the startup company’s line of energy efficient vehicles because of Tunica
County’s central location, proximity to transportation infrastructure and Northwest Mississippi’s work force.
He also told The Daily News the company was attracted to the area because of the advantages that Memphis, just a few miles to the north, brings for the company’s logistic and distribution needs.
“This is FedEx’s headquarters, and we have a great partner in logistics with Mallory Alexander,” Wang said. “They have the facilities and the capabilities in both Europe and Asia, which are the two major continents where we have our technology partners.” Friends in high places
Wang was referring to Memphis-based Mallory Alexander International Logistics, the third-party logistics company that has worked with GreenTech since February on the company’s import needs. Mallory, for example, ensured GreenTech’s four prototype vehicles made it to Tuesday’s event.
Wang went on to tout the Mid-South’s air, road, rail and river assets as integral to the company’s supply chain once work begins on the plant and once cars begin rolling off the assembly line.
“Those are very important factors when we choose a site,” Wang said.
Tunica Chamber of Commerce President Lyn Arnold echoed Wang’s comments about Memphis being an important attribute for GreenTech’s operation.
“Having a large city near you, having an international airport near you, those things are great advantages,” Arnold told The Daily News. “All the transportation networks that are in the Memphis area, all of those things are important.
Having a large city population and the amenities that the city offers are very important.”
A host of partners who made the project a reality discussed preliminary plans for the plant during a press conference at Harrah’s Casino in Robinsonville. Headlined by Wang and Arnold, the group also unveiled four prototype hybrid vehicles the company plans to build at the plant.
The company hopes to eventually build affordable cars matching lower emissions and fuel-consumption standards that President Barack Obama’s administration wants automakers to meet by 2016.
Wang said he expects the U.S. economy to rebound and for hybrid car demand to continue to rise. United nations