Nissan Motor Co. said it will hire at least 1,000 more workers to build the Sentra sedan in December at its plant in Canton, Mississippi.
Total employment at the Canton plant will rise to 4,500 from the existing 3,900 by December, Nissan officials said. The move comes at a time when the United Auto Workers (UAW) is making efforts to organize the plant’s workers.
The Sentra would be the seventh model produced at the plant, along with the Altima sedan, the Frontier and Titan pickups, the Xterra and Armada SUVs and the NV van. The Canton plant will start making the Frontier and Xterra later this year.
“When we launch the next-generation Sentra, we expect to see higher demand, more competitiveness with that product,” Bill Krueger, the Yokohama, Japan-based automaker’s vice chairman of the Americas, said in a telephone interview.
“We’re really preparing now for that increase in Sentra demand.”
The Mississippi Development Authority worked with company officials to help facilitate the project. The agency provided assistance through the Mississippi Industry Incentive Financing Fund to assist with infrastructure and job training needs associated with the project.
Mississippi’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May was 8.7 percent, down slightly from 8.8 percent in April.
The state’s May 2011 unemployment rate was 10.7 percent, according to the state Department of Employment Security.
Through May of this year (automakers plan to release June totals next week), sales of compacts from the largest automakers in the U.S. are up 6.5 percent. Most of that increase has come from the Civic and Corolla, but the Focus has grown as well.
Nissan’s Canton Assembly Plant, a 3.5-million square-foot facility on 1,400 acres outside of Jackson, Miss., represents an investment of more than $2 billion.