“Buying A Southern Car” – Lambert’s Lagniappe – July 2010

Growing up in Louisiana, my dad drove mostly Chevrolets. My first car was a full sized Chevy Scottsdale truck that we used to haul horses, hay and other things. As a kid, I never thought about purchasing a “foreign car”. Over time, my attitude to foreign cars changed, as has most Americans. In June, I purchased a new Nissan Altima, a car built in Canton, Mis­sissippi. Most people do not realize that today, there are more cars built in the U.S. by foreign owned companies that by the traditional “Big 3” (General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford).

One of the strongest drivers of that trans­formation is the story of the growth of the Southern Auto Industry since the 1980s. While Kentucky remains one of the leaders in the Southern Industry, Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina have all attached foreign automotive producers. Although Mississippi got into the foreign auto assembly industry relatively late, they have also seen their auto industry grow, including the recent announcement of Toyota to develop the Tunica site.

In June, I attended the Southern Growth Policy Board’s meeting in Lexington, Kentucky. It was a very good conference, with a strong focus on the economic development aspect of the Auto Industry. While there was some remarks upon the future of the industry, most felt that the region will remain a strong leader in the production of automobiles, due to its infrastructure and access to markets.

I am in the process of finishing up a study of the automotive industry in the Southeast with Chad Miller at the University of Southern Missis­sippi. We will release the report and annotated bibliography in a few weeks, but clearly the region has benefited from the investment in the auto industry. So, in a twist of fate, I am part of the story that I am researching – how the South has been transformed not only by Foreign Investment in the Auto Industry, but in a changing perspective of the region’s eco­nomic potential.

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3 Responses to ““Buying A Southern Car” – Lambert’s Lagniappe – July 2010”

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