The Clarion-Ledger, 12/16/8

Slumping automobile sales in the U.S. has forced Toyota again to delay – this time indefinitely – the opening of its $1.3 billion assembly plant in Blue Springs.

It’s the second delay the company has announced for the plant that will create more than 2,000 jobs and produce the Prius hybrid.

The opening was pushed back this summer when Toyota switched from the plant’s original vehicle – the Highlander SUV.

Toyota’s move also delays the startups of suppliers, who are expected to create an additional 2,000 jobs.

“Do we wish they were going to start building cars next week? Yes,” said Randy Kelley, director of Three Rivers Planning and Development District, which represents about 20 counties in North Mississippi. “We feel very strong that as the economy turns around, Toyota will be (here) in full force.