JANUARY 24, 2005 - Posted at 2:33 p.m. CST
MARION, AR - Cranes have placed the first parts of an auto parts plant on an open field in Marion this morning.
The Hino Motors parts plant will bring 280 jobs to the depressed Arkansas Delta while supplying parent company Toyota with differentials and rear-axle and suspension-related parts for 300,000 vehicles per year.
The plant is expected to open in October 2006.
Marion economic development director Kay Brockwell was at the site this morning to watch steel beams and cranes glisten in the sun. She said she was proud the city had reached this milestone, but it also serves as a motivation to keep working to bring a full vehicle assembly plant to land next door.
Toyota, which owns 51 percent of Hino, nearly picked the adjacent land for a plant it eventually placed in San Antonio. But the auto giant is still considering something in Marion, and Hino recently opened its first American truck assembly plant in California. If sales go well, the company says Arkansas could be next.