Tupelo Officials Worked Hard for Toyota Jobs

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Winning a new Toyota plant was an exhausting prospect for Ed Neelly, the mayor of Tupelo, Miss. Neelly and other city officials have worked for six years, traveling the world, to seal the deal with the Japanese automaker.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Chattanooga, Tennessee, was another frontrunner spurned by Toyota this time around. Mayor Ron Littlefield tried to put the best face on his city's loss. He said finishing second is not bad. In Tupelo, Mississippi, the winning city, Mayor Ed Neelly is looking forward to getting some rest.

Mayor ED NEELLY (Tupelo, Mississippi): Well, I guess I'm so elated that my brain is not working really well. We've been working every day for the last six years to bring this to pass. We traveled to Spain, to the world automobile show. We've traveled to Tokyo. We've traveled all over the country. We've courted people. We told our story and we were successful.

INSKEEP: The governors of Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee reportedly met earlier this week with Toyota officials to hear the news. Mayor Neelly says throughout this process, Toyota told its suitors to keep everything secret.

Mayor NEELLY: I had to tell it to six different newspapers that asked me what I knew about it, and I told them I didn't know anything. I hated to do it but they put me on the spot. I hope the Lord will forgive me for telling a fib.

INSKEEP: Now of course the news is out, which leads to the question of how Tupelo will celebrate next. Mayor Ed Neelly tells us they haven't gotten that far.

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