"As Elvis would say, 'Only fools rush in,"' Ray Tanguay, executive vice- president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, said during the company's announcement at Tupelo High School.

 

Jim Press, president of Toyota North America, spoke from Washington, and his image was projected onto screens to an audience of 1,500 at the school auditorium.

 

He picked up on the Elvis theme. "I guess it's 'Don't step on my Blue Springs shoes,"' Press said, prompting applause and laughter.

 

Location

 

Toyota officials said the company chose to go to northeast Mississippi because they liked what they saw of the education levels and work ethic of potential employees.

 

Jim Wiseman, vice-president of external affairs for Toyota North America, said more than 25 states sought the plant and Tennessee and Arkansas had "excellent sites".

 

"You can't choose everybody," Wiseman said.

 

Toyota already has vehicle assembly plants in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Also, the company will start producing Camrys at a Subaru plant in Lafayette, Indiana. Toyota also has four engine plants in North America.

The announcement comes after a slump in the American car industry with Ford reporting increasing losses and DaimlerChrysler cutting 13,000 jobs at its plants across North America.