Report: NC a finalist for Toyota-Mazda car plant

Posted November 14, 2017 2:42 p.m. EST
Updated November 14, 2017 10:17 p.m. EST

— North Carolina is one of two finalists for a vehicle manufacturing plant that would be jointly owned and operated by Toyota and Mazda, according to a Tuesday report in industry newspaper Automotive News.

Alabama is the other finalist for the $1.6 billion plant, and a decision is expected early next year, the newspaper reported.

North Carolina has tried for years to land an auto plant, creating four "mega-sites" ready to accommodate a large manufacturing operation and expanding state incentive funds to provide more money to lure "transformative projects." But all of the state's efforts have been in vain, with companies from Volvo to Mercedes to Hyundai picking other sites in the Southeast.

The Randolph County Planning Board voted in the affirmative Tuesday night on a rezoning request that would add 370 acres to the 1,500-acre mega-site south of Greensboro. Chairman Rid Pell said he hopes the land will be a draw for the potential plant.

"Nothing has been signed, but that's the whole reason for doing, not just those, but any auto place," Pell said.

"I think if it doesn't come, we've got a prime site, probably one of the best sites in North Carolina, that can attract an industry of some sort," said Liberty Mayor Filmore York.

The other three mega-sites are near Siler City and Moncure in Chatham County and east of Rocky Mount in Edgecombe County. Jim Crawford, chairman of the Chatham County Commission, on Tuesday night said that the sites near Siler City and Moncure are no longer in the running for the plant, but they have submitted a bid for the new Amazon headquarters.

Crawford said he will be rooting for the Randolph County site to get the plan, because it is only eight miles away from Chatham County.

The Toyota-Mazda plant would employ about 4,000 people, the companies said in August when they first announced plans for the joint operation. Toyota plans to assemble the Corolla sedan at the plant, while Mazda said it will use the factory to produce new crossover vehicles for the U.S. market.

By the time the plant opens in 2021, parts suppliers and other support operations would likely set up shop nearby, bringing more jobs.

The companies are reportedly seeking $1 billion in incentives from state and local governments to land the plant, which would be more than 10 times the largest incentive deal North Carolina has ever awarded. MetLife operations in Cary and Charlotte garnered $87 million in incentives in 2013.