By Mannix Porterfield
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS —
Toyota is pouring another $90 million into its Buffalo plant to increase transmission production, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says that is further proof West Virginia is creating the right kind of business climate.
Tomblin put in a second appearance Friday at the state Chamber of Commerce’s annual business summit at The Greenbrier to make the announcement, one that drew a strong round of applause.
In its 15-year stay at the Putnam County plant, Tomblin said, the nation’s biggest car manufacturer has expanded its production eight times.
“These West Virginians have built a world-class reputation,” Tomblin said of the workers employed there.
“And that reputation has led to this expansion.”
Since it has operated in Buffalo, the workers have produced more than 10 million powertrain engines and transmissions.
Tomblin said the latest move by Toyota translates into 80 new jobs, and means the plant workers there will increase their annual output of transmissions from half a million to 740,000, beginning in 2015.
Toyota will be raising its six-speed automatic transmission assembly and machining capacity by 20,000 per month. Combined with the casting facilities of the firm’s installations in Missouri and Tennessee, the automaker will add more than 100 total jobs.
Time and time again, the governor said, the West Virginians have proved their mettle with “a can-do attitude.”
“West Virginia workers help meet the demand for more cars and SUVs,” the governor said.
While workers certainly deserve much of the credit, Tomblin said one cannot ignore the efforts of state leaders to improve the business climate that makes West Virginia appealing to investors.
“That is our mission — to create a business climate that will encourage the private sector to create jobs just as Toyota is doing,” Tomblin told hundreds of business interests at the close of the annual, three-day conference.
Tomblin pledged everything within his power to “continue to make West Virginia a better place to live, work and do business.”
“I thank Toyota for the company’s continued confidence in our work force,” he said.
With the announcement, Toyota is making its 11th investment in North America in the past 21 months, reflecting an investment of $2.1 billion and the creation of more than 4,000 jobs.
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