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BY STEVEN NALLEY
Special to Daily Times Leader
STARKVILLE â€” When Yokohama Tire Corporation first set out to build a new plant in the U.S., West Point was among more than 3,000 possible sites the company had in mind.
Tadaharu Yamamoto, president of Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi (YTMM), said Yokohama first looked at 3,114 counties across the U.S. and, after screening, narrowed that to 116 counties in the Southeast. Yokohama received 85 applications from among these counties, he said, narrowing those to three finalists before deciding on West Point in Clay County.
"There are a lot of reasons why we decided on West Point," Yamamoto said. "West Point is the best because of the cost of living, and another reason is the quality of the workers."
Yamamoto provided insights into YTMM's role in Yokohama's overarching business plan in a presentation to the Starkville Rotary Club Monday.
Introducing Yamamoto was Rotarian Stuart Vance, who said Yokohama chose Yamamoto to oversee the construction of the West Point, hire its workforce and manage it once it is up and running. Before coming to Mississippi, Vance said, Yamamoto had several years of progressive experience with Yokohama, including tenure as head of Yokohama Tire Philippines.
"It was some 14 months ago that Gov. Phil Bryant announced that Yokohama Tire Corporation had selected West Point," Vance said. "There's no doubt this announcement is one of the most significant developments in the history of the Golden Triangle. They come not just to build their factory in the U.S. but to be part of our community."
Starkville Rotary Club President Brent Fountain said Monday marked Yamamoto's first visit to the club, and he felt it presented mutual opportunities for both Starkville and Yokohama.
"I think him getting to see our interest in Yokohama Tire, and us getting to hear his perspective and desires for his organization, will lead to good friendships and partnerships with Starkville and the Golden Triangle," Fountain said. "We have a lot of community and business leaders, and we have a lot of resources, too, through (Mississippi State) University. It's a good opportunity for Mr. Yamamoto to see what Starkville is all about, and we're pleased to have him here."
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