07/05/2005: Economic development news: some interesting facts....
This hits kinda close to home, inasmuch as A Great And Good Friend Of Mine works in the Economic Development field, and she's been instrumental in one or two failed attempts to lure a Toyota plant to her area (as well as a successful attempt to get one of Toyota's suppliers to locate in the area).
Toyota just announced a plan to build a new plant in Woodstock, Ontario. That plant is slated to build 100,000 vehicles a year.
And why did Toyota choose to build its plant in Canada? In four words: An educated workforce matters. And to add a few more: the cost of healthcare is a factor, too.
WOODSTOCK, Ont. (CP) - Ontario workers are well-trained.But, here's an interesting twist, which should stick in the craw of those who think that the U.S. health care system is so superior:
That simple explanation was cited as a main reason why Toyota turned its back on hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies offered from several American states in favour of building a second Ontario plant.
Industry experts say Ontarians are easier and cheaper to train - helping make it more cost-efficient to train workers when the new Woodstock plant opens in 2008, 40 kilometres away from its skilled workforce in Cambridge.
"The level of the workforce in general is so high that the training program you need for people, even for people who have not worked in a Toyota plant before, is minimal compared to what you have to go through in the southeastern United States," said Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, whose members will see increased business with the new plant.
Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.
He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.
"The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said. [emphasis added --LRC]
In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.Education counts. As well as good, affordable health-care. As Bryan at Why Now? points out:
"Most people don't think of our health-care system as being a competitive advantage," he said. [emphasis supplied --LRC]
Remember: with tens of millions of Americans without coverage the US spends twice as much per person for healthcare with worse results than other industrialized countries.Credit chain: Cookie Jill at skippy the bush kangaroo via Bryan (link above).
UPDATE: South Knox Bubba links to the story as well, and has this to say:
This article is Exhibit A in the indictment of Southern states for their failure to invest in education. It's also a sad commentary on America's general failure to act on providing affordable health care for everyone.
Len on 07.05.05 @ 07:25 AM CST