Wall Street Journal Reports that Marion is Among Top Five Finalists for Toyota Plant

JANUARY 4, 2007 - Posted at 4:06 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Arkansas again appears to be on the short list for an automobile manufacturing plant for its long-touted site in Marion.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that the Marion site, along with sites in Tennessee and North Carolina, are being considered by Toyota Motor Corporation for a factory that would assemble its Highlander sport utility vehicle.

The Arkansas Department of Economic Development would not directly comment about whether Toyota is taking a fresh look at the state. The Marion site was considered for a truck plant that Toyota chose to build in San Antonio. Hino Motors, a division of Toyota, has opened a parts plant in Marion and has mentioned the site as possibly getting a plant that would produce small delivery trucks.

Governor Huckabee, who leaves office Tuesday, has pressed hard for an auto assembly plant for Arkansas. Huckabee's spokeswoman didn't immediately return a call from the AP.

Department of Economic Development spokesman Mitch Chandler said the state has been pushing hard for a plant for Marion -- by marketing the site and by preparing the local workforce.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

JANUARY 4, 2007 - Posted at 12:59 p.m. CST

MARION, AR - The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that Marion is one of two sites being considered for a new Toyota automobile assembly plant.

An article on page A3, with an accompanying map, says Marion is in the running for a plant with the capacity to manufacture 200,000 units of a new version of Toyota's Highlander SUV.  It says the plant would be operational by 2009.  Chattanooga, Tennessee, is listed as the other prime candidate, with a location near Alamo, Tennessee, and an unspecified site in North Carolina in the running behind Marion and Chattanooga.

Hino Motors, a subsidiary of Toyota, already operates a truck parts plant in Marion.  That facility opened in 2006.

In November 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported that Hino would build an assembly plant in Marion that would build 3,000 to 4,000 trucks per year and be operational by 2007, although company officials have never publicly confirmed those plans.