LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Toyota and Mazda’s decision to build their joint U.S. auto plant in Alabama still benefits Kentucky even though the Japanese companies resisted Gov. Matt Bevin’s appeals to locate the plant in the Bluegrass State, according to Bevin’s economic development cabinet.
Toyota and Mazda said Wednesday that they selected a site outside Huntsville, Alabama, for the plant, which could employ up to 4,000 people making the Toyota Corolla compact car and a new small SUV from Mazda.
The North Alabama plant, expected to open in 2021, will still be within a day’s drive of many of Kentucky’s more-than 500 automotive suppliers, according to Jack Mazurak, a spokesman for the state Cabinet for Economic Development.
“That’s excellent news for suppliers and their Kentucky communities in terms of potential expansions, and job creation as they join the new plant’s supplier network,” Mazurak said in an emailed statement. “We fully expect this to add more fuel to Kentucky’s already historic rate of automotive investment.”
Days after the plans for the plant were first announced in August, Bevin said Kentucky – already home to Toyota’s largest plant in the world, in Georgetown – would make an all-out push to land the new factory.
“We are going to be on that like white on rice,” Bevin said at the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association’s annual conference on Aug. 7.
Bevin and other state officials met with Toyota’s “top executives” to lobby for the plant in Kentucky, Mazurak said.
“They received tremendous feedback both on Kentucky’s viability to attract more industry and Toyota's commitment to the state,” Mazurak said in the statement. “Further, the whole opportunity to pitch Kentucky for the plant underscored just how important of a corporate citizen Toyota is in the commonwealth.”
In a press release, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda praised “the excellent Alabama workforce” and said the decision “builds on the very success we have enjoyed in Alabama.”
Toyota build engines at its 16-year-old plant in Huntsville, about 14 miles from the planned site of the joint venture with Mazda.