Southern Business & Development is celebrating its 25th anniversary over the next year (four issues). The second feature attributed to that theme is this pictorial titled, “The Way Too Early Guide to Toyota-Mazda Parts Supplier Locations.”Based on our data, we have chosen the 25 best counties in the South for suppliers to the Toyota-Mazda plant that is being built in Huntsville, Ala. The MTMUS facility is expected to be fully operational in 2021 and will house 4,000 workers
Cullman County, Ala.
Cullman County is rich in automotive suppliers, most of which are foreign-owned. Located on Interstate 65, 48 miles south of the Toyota-Mazda site that is also located on I-65, Cullman has consistently been named among the top Micropolitans in the South by Southern Business & Development in project activity. Wallace State Community College in nearby Hanceville, Ala., is considered one of the best, if not the best, community college for workforce training in the state.
Cullman has a thriving downtown, local leaders supportive of growth, and an exceptional school system. The high quality education system is matched by excellent healthcare options.
Jackson County, Ala.
If you don’t want to compete with Toyota-Mazda’s workforce, you might want to take a look at Jackson County, Ala. Located adjacent to Madison County in the far northeast corner of the state, Jackson County is about 55 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site. Its county seat, Scottsboro, is 73 miles from the site. In March, Google officially broke ground on a $600 million data center in Jackson County.
Most of the industrial parks in Jackson County are rail-served and the population within a 50-mile radius of Jackson (including parts of Huntsville) is nearly 250,000. School systems in Jackson County rank in the top 20 percent in the state of Alabama. The Earnest Pruett Center for Technology (EPCOT) is the No. 1 high school technical program in Alabama. EPCOT is located adjacent to Jackson County Industrial Park.
Lauderdale County, Ala.
Florence, the county seat of Lauderdale County, Ala., is 43 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site in Huntsville and 96 miles from the Toyota assembly plant in Blue Springs, Miss. So, logistically, a supplier building a plant in Lauderdale County or any counties in the Shoals region of Northwest Alabama can serve both facilities.
The Shoals Economic Development Authority (SEDA) works to capture projects in the Northwest Alabama region, including Lauderdale and Colbert Counties. SEDA currently owns and operates four industrial parks in Northwest Alabama with a combined acreage of 3,792 acres. Of that acreage, approximately 1,100 acres are available for prospective industry. Another 1,850 acres are available for industrial use at eight other parks and sites. Automotive supplier North American Lighting operates a large plant in the Shoals region, where it employs over 1,600 workers.
Limestone County, Ala.
Even though the Toyota-Mazda site is in the city of Huntsville (which is in Madison County), the site is technically in Limestone County, just off I-65. Limestone County is ground zero for the Toyota-Mazda plant. The county is growing rapidly, with a 10-year growth rate of 26 percent. With the arrival of Toyota-Mazda, that growth will expand exponentially.
There’s been no news on whether Toyota-Mazda will build a supplier park near or at the site of the new plant. Regardless, Limestone County is home to an abundant number of industrial sites, ranging from 100 acres to a 2,000-acre megasite.
Madison County, Ala.
Huntsville, the county seat of Madison County, was recently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the seventh best place to live in the U.S. That ranking topped Nashville and Raleigh-Durham, among other outstanding places to live. Madison County has a flourishing job market and it’s where most of the 4,000 workers for the Toyota-Mazda plant will be drawn from.
Huntsville was almost picked by Volkswagen in 2008 for its plant that went to Chattanooga. With the addition of Toyota-Mazda to the city, the Huntsville region is without question one of the most diversified economies in the South. Military, space, telecommunications and biotechnology all thrive in Madison County. Madison County has an estimated population of 365,000.
Marshall County, Ala.
Parts of Marshall County are only about 40 miles from the site of the Toyota-Mazda plant. Guntersville, the county seat, is roughly equidistant (60 to 90 minutes) from both the Honda assembly plant in Talladega County and the Toyota-Mazda site in Limestone County. Both are Japanese automakers, so if your company supplies Honda’s plant and plans on supplying the Toyota-Mazda plant when built, Marshall County would be a good fit.
Residents of Marshall County enjoy a lower cost of living and have access to many recreational opportunities, including water activities on and around the Tennessee River and Lake Guntersville. The schools in Marshall County are consistently ranked above average in statewide tests.
Morgan County, Ala.
Located about 15 miles from the site of Toyota-Mazda is Decatur and Morgan County. Also on Interstate 65, Morgan County is supported by a diverse industry base, including automotive, aerospace, food processing, steel processing and chemicals.
Morgan County is also home to the Robotics Technology Park. Workforce training in robotics is more active in this part of North Alabama than any other part of the state. It is also home to the Mallard-Fox Creek Port on the Tennessee River. The port is served by Norfolk Southern and there is industrial land available at the port.
Walker County, Ala.
With the completion of Interstate 22 from Birmingham to Memphis, Walker County has seen a significant increase in project activity. Jasper, the county seat, is located about 75 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site. Walker County is also about 72 miles from the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa County, 80 miles from the Honda assembly plant in Talladega County and 105 miles from Toyota’s plant in Blue Springs, Miss.
Recently, Japanese parts supplier Yorozu opened a large facility in Walker County. Yorozu already supplies Toyota and Mazda, so it’s highly probable the new plant in Walker County will supply the new Toyota-Mazda plant when it opens in three years.
Hardin County, Ky.
Elizabethtown and Hardin County, Ky., are about 200 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site in North Alabama. Both are on Interstate 65. Hardin County has plenty of Toyota suppliers now because it is located just 90 miles from Toyota’s largest North American assembly plant in Georgetown, Ky. Hardin County is also 40 miles from Ford’s two assembly plants in Louisville and 75 miles from GM’s Corvette plant in Bowling Green.
Hardin County has a thriving manufacturing sector, with many industries manufacturing components for the automotive sector. Hardin County is centrally located to assembly plants in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and the Midwest. The county is poised for significant additional growth in advanced manufacturing with the 1,551-acre Glendale Megasite. The site is certified by CSX Railroad and is located on Interstate 65 and a CSX mainline.
Jefferson County, Ky.
From Louisville and Jefferson County, parts suppliers can serve both the Toyota assembly plant in Georgetown, Ky., and the Toyota-Mazda plant in Huntsville, Ala. Manufacturing is thriving in Louisville as Forbes has called the metro a manufacturing “boomtown” two years in a row. Louisville is also an outstanding place to live with a vibrant central business district.
The Louisville region’s labor productivity is 50 percent higher than the national average and the metro’s manufacturing employment is 20 percent greater than the national average. There are 14 major automotive OEMs within 250 miles of Louisville, and when the Toyota-Mazda plant is built, that will make it 15.
Nelson County, Ky.
Bardstown is the county seat of Nelson County. Bardstown continues to be included in the list of the “Top 10 Best Small Towns in America.” Bardstown was also named the “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” by RandMcNally and USA Today.
Nelson County is about 250 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site in North Alabama, but only 65 miles from Toyota’s Kentucky plant. There are several Toyota parts suppliers located in Nelson County, including Toyota Boshoku. Population growth in Nelson County has been in double digits of late and the county continues to be one of the fastest growing areas of the Commonwealth.
Simpson County, Ky.
This small county of about 18,000 people is a straight shot down Interstate 65 to the Toyota-Mazda site in North Alabama, 140 miles away. Why pick Simpson County for one of the best sites for parts suppliers to Toyota-Mazda? Well, the folks running the Franklin-Simpson Industrial Authority really know the practice of economic development. There seems to always be at least one spec building available in the county and there are over 400 acres of available industrial land. The county features high speed internet service, a state-of-the-art technical college and CSX Railway access.
Warren County, Ky.
Here is another county in Kentucky that sees high volumes of deal activity. Located to the north of Simpson County, the interstate that fronts the Toyota-Mazda site (I-65) runs right through Warren County and Bowling Green, Ky. Home to a GM plant, Warren County is approximately 155 miles north of the Toyota-Mazda site and 155 miles southwest of the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Ky. . .so equidistant to both plants.
Warren County is home to Western Kentucky University, and the South Central Kentucky region has grown by 22 percent in the past nine years. Interestingly, there are no local sales tax or production equipment taxes in Warren County. The Nashville International Airport is only one hour from Bowling Green.
Alcorn County, Miss.
I just visited Corinth, Miss., and Alcorn County. Great place with a dual rail — true dual rail — site. The 145-acre site (with another 160 acres available) is controlled by the Corinth Alliance, the local economic development agency.
Alcorn County and Corinth, Miss., are located in Northeast Mississippi, just 50 miles north of Toyota’s Corolla assembly plant in Blue Springs, Miss., and 100 miles from the new Toyota-Mazda site. Alcorn County is within 250 miles of 10 assembly plants in the Southern Automotive Corridor. The public schools in Corinth are first-rate and the Northeast Mississippi Community College in neighboring Prentiss County, with a satellite campus in Corinth, provides valuable services to business and industry through its Division of Workforce Training and Economic Development.
Itawamba County, Miss.
Itawamba County, Miss., is the first county you hit when driving on Interstate 22 from Birmingham to Memphis. The county seat is Fulton, which is 110 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site in Huntsville, Ala., and only 35 miles to the Toyota Corolla plant in Blue Springs, Miss. In fact, if there is lots of interaction between the two Toyota facilities, you must drive through Itawamba County to get to either plant.
Itawamba County’s population is just shy of 25,000. It’s a small county, but its location is perfect for Toyota-Mazda suppliers. The Itawamba County School District is the No. 10 school district in the state of Mississippi. Furthermore, Itawamba County is also home to Itawamba Community College, which has been rated as the No. 6 community college in the nation.
Lee County, Miss.
Tupelo and Lee County, Miss., have a rich history in the practice of economic development. Long the home of the furniture industry, the county was immersed into the automotive industry when Toyota opened a plant in neighboring Union County in the fall of 2011. That Union County plant builds the Corolla model, which will also be assembled at the Toyota-Mazda plant in Huntsville.
The Community Development Foundation (CDF), one of the first economic development agencies formed in the United States in the late 1940s, has made major contributions to Lee County with the development of nine industrial parks. CDF has been characterized by many as an organization that is at the center of innovation, as well as the most significant force in rural American economic and community development.
Lowndes County, Miss.
Here is another famous place that is home to a well-known, highly successful economic development agency, the Golden Triangle Development Link. You may have seen its CEO Joe Max Higgins on 60 Minutes recently.
The Golden Triangle references a region in North Mississippi encompassing Columbus, Starkville and West Point. The GTR LINK boasts a record of nearly $6 billion in investments and nearly 6,000 jobs created in just over a decade. The organization has secured many industrial sites, including the Prairie Belt Powersite and the Infinity Megasite. Lowndes County is located 80 miles from the Toyota plant in Blue Springs, Miss., and 150 miles from the Toyota-Mazda plant site.
Monroe County, Miss.
Monroe County is located just north of Lowndes County, just 35 minutes from Toyota’s Mississippi plant in Blue Springs. It is located about 125 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site in North Alabama.
Monroe County is also located on the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, which connects the Port of Mobile to the Tennessee River. The BNSF mainline runs through the county halfway between Birmingham and Memphis. Monroe County is halfway between Tupelo (Lee County) and Columbus, Miss., (Lowndes County).
Prentiss County, Miss.
Prentiss County is located in extreme Northeast Mississippi, 115 miles west of the Toyota-Mazda site and 30 miles from Toyota’s plant in Blue Springs, Miss. This county is also on the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway and it is served by KCS rail. Parker Hannifin, an automotive supplier, operates a large plant in Prentiss County.
The biggest draw to Prentiss County is that it is home to Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. Industrial sites and buildings are readily available at several locations in the county. County and municipal governments are very cooperative in accommodating the needs of new and expanding businesses.
Tishomingo County, Miss.
Tishomingo County has captured some outstanding projects over the years, particularly in the steel industry. Located just across the border from Lauderdale and Colbert counties in Alabama, Tishomingo County is 60 miles from the Toyota plant in Blue Springs, Miss., and just 84 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site.
There might not be a rural county in the South that has more and larger industrial parks than you will find in Tishomingo County. The Tri-State Commerce Park features 3,500 acres with a rail yard, barge dock and 24/7 security. It also has a crane with capacity of 400 tons, dual feed electric power and an onsite fire department. There are also several more industrial parks in the county.
Union County, Miss.
Union County is home to Toyota’s Mississippi assembly plant. The county is located on Interstate 22, one hour from Memphis International Airport and 150 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site in Huntsville, Ala.
Northeast Mississippi Community College has a branch in New Albany and the two school systems are rated Level 5 or Level 4, the state’s highest ratings. Historically, Union County has been a manufacturing location as it is considered the birthplace of Northeast Mississippi’s furniture industry.
Giles County, Tenn.
Giles County has about 29,000 residents, and one of its largest employers is Magneti Marelli, a manufacturer of automotive lighting. In fact, several large automotive suppliers operate in Giles County.
Giles County is just across the state line from Limestone County, Ala., only 15 miles at its southern border from the Toyota-Mazda site. It is located 58 miles south of Nashville and 40 miles north of Huntsville, two of the South’s most progressive cities.
Lawrence County, Tenn.
Lawrence County and Lawrenceburg are located just across Tennessee’s border with Alabama, approximately 40 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site in Huntsville, Ala. Lawrence County has been fertile ground for companies like Dura Automotive, Modine, Graphic Packaging, Hughes Parker Industries, Bertolini, InMotion Robotics and 3D Systems.
The Lawrence County School System works closely with local industry to make sure its programs help prepare students for success in today’s job market. The county is also home to Columbia State Community College’s Lawrence Campus.
Lincoln County, Tenn.
Fayetteville and Lincoln County are located in southernmost Tennessee, 31 miles from Huntsville and 82 miles from Nashville. Fayetteville, the county seat, is located 45 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site.
There is a wealth of workforce training facilities in Lincoln County, including the Don Sundquist Center for Advanced Technologies, Motlow State Community College and the Tennessee College of Applied Technologies. Industrial sites in Lincoln County are numerous at the Bullington and Fayetteville-Lincoln County Industrial Parks.
Maury County, Tenn.
Maury County is home to a large General Motors assembly plant and is a hotbed for automotive suppliers. The county is in the heart of automotive manufacturing in the U.S. In fact, 14 OEMs are within 250 miles of Maury County. The county also has a wide selection of available sites and buildings, many with direct highway access or Interstate 65 access.
The southernmost border of Maury County is only about 50 miles from the Toyota-Mazda site. Maury County is part of the Nashville MSA.