The issue has repercussions outside of St. Angelo's office in Georgetown, Ky. Several suppliers already have invested in parts plants in northern Mississippi to produce components on a just-in-time basis.
-- The beginnings of a $200 million stamping and welding plant by Toyota's partly owned supplier Toyota Auto Body Co.
-- An $80 million seating plant started by Toyota Boshoku Corp.
-- A $31 million Vuteq USA Inc. injection-molding plant to produce rear and door window modules.
Those projects, along with the actual Toyota vehicle assembly plan, are stalled.
The interruption has implications for the region, which has been attempting to attract additional auto industry investment. Last month, faced with supporting infrastructure investment in the area, Mississippi chose to go ahead with a $90 million roads project to create new highway access into the Toyota site for suppliers -- even though the project is cloaked in uncertainty.
Toyota broke ground on a 2 million-square-foot factory in 2007 that was to have begun turning out Highlander SUVs in late 2009. But after the economy soured and SUV sales wilted in favor of more fuel-efficient vehicles, Toyota altered the plan in July 2008 to produce the Prius instead.
But the economy worsened in late 2008. Toyota, facing the prospect of reporting financial losses for the first time in 70 years, halted work on the plant. The exterior was completed to prevent damage from the elements. But project officials stopped short of ordering production tooling or hiring production workers. An office staff of 60 to 70 people work now at the site.
St. Angelo says he is confident the plant will move forward when the economy regains strength.