Calsonic breaks ground at Ceres

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 8, 2001

CalsonicKansei Chief Operating Officer Elton Coleman, far left, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and CalsonicKansei President and CEO O Toyoguchi perform a Japanese celebration ritual by using Kozuchis to break a barrel of sake for the toast.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN

[10/05/01]With some concrete already poured and earth-moving machines crawling across the landscape, ground was officially broken Thursday for the newest industry to locate in Warren County.

Executives of CalsonicKansei North America Inc. were welcomed by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and local officials and were toasted with sake, Japanese rice wine, at the county’s industrial park at Flowers.

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When it opens in April, CalsonicKansei Mississippi will employ about 119 people on the 52-acre site. In addition, the company will build a smaller plant near Canton, employing 18 people.

Together, they will make radiators, exhaust systems and condensers for the Nissan plant now under construction near Canton and other Nissan plants.

“We will appreciate your patience and understanding. Together we will overcome the barrier of languages,” said O. Toyoguchi, managing director of CalsonicKansei of Japan and president and chief executive officer of CalsonicKansei North America.

The $930 million Nissan plant was announced 11 months ago. It

will assemble pickups, vans and sport utility vehicles.

CalsonicKanseis plant will be 140,000 square feet and cost more than $17.2 million.

Full operation is expected to be achieved in May 2003, and the company expects the two plants to have a sales volume of more than $65 million by Fiscal Year 2004.

Toyoguchi said he and other CalsonicKansei officials looked forward to the challenges and opportunities the new plant represented.

“We are looking forward to establishing ourselves in this community as a progressive company,” he said, adding that with hard work and dedication the company and its new plant will succeed.

Musgrove said he was glad to see Warren County receive direct benefits from the Nissan plant in Canton and credited Jimmy Heidel for his efforts. Heidel, director of state economic development for eight years starting in 1992, is Warren County’s chamber of commerce executive and port director.

“Jimmy, I want you to know we kept our end of the bargain, and you are keeping your end of the bargain by doing a great job by making a great work force available, great opportunity, great leadership here working with Calsonic on this great facility here,” Musgrove said.

He also said the Nissan and CalsonicKansei plants send the message that Mississippi can and will compete against anyone for development.

A second company, also to act as a supplier to Nissan, has been in negotiations for Ceres land and received approval to acquire land there.

The former farmland was bought by Warren County in 1986 and, using federal grants, developed into industrial sites. Additional grants are being used to prepare roads and other infrastructure for the new companies.