November 2020

Auto markets begin to stabilize worldwide

In the fall quarter, global automotive markets began to increase sales in China, the U.S. and Europe. China, the first country to have coronavirus cases, saw growth in its automotive market in the summer and fall 2020 quarters. The U.S. quickly followed and the European Automotive Manufacturers’ Association said it saw an increase of 1.1 percent in sales in October.

New report shows Southeast has large share of electric vehicle market

A new report by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and Atlas Public Policy shows that the Southeast is a leader in electric vehicle manufacturing and research and development. The report, “Transportation Electrification in the Southeast,” claimed that 28 percent of the nationwide manufacturing investment has occurred in the Southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Nearly $7 billion in current automakers and battery manufacturer’s investments are in the Southeast.

Tesla’s gigafactory in Austin, Texas, to create 15,000 new jobs

Tesla is expected to create 15,000 direct and indirect jobs at the factory it is building near the Austin airport. The company will build its Cybertruck at the facility.

Toyota expanding plant in Georgia

Toyota Industries Compressor Parts America is investing over $5 million in its plant in Jackson County, Ga. The deal will create 27 jobs.

Continental Tire eyes expansion in Lancaster County, S.C.

Continental Tire the Americas will invest more than $20 million to expand its complex in Lancaster County. The expansion will include a new 88,000-square-foot building that will be constructed next to the existing headquarters, and the addition of 200 new jobs.

Cleveland, Tenn., lands $114 million auto parts plant

Southeast Tennessee’s growing auto sector has landed a supplier that plans to hire nearly 200 workers and invest $114 million as the first company in Cleveland’s newest industrial park. Cannon Automotive Solutions of Bowling Green,Ky., a maker of metal auto parts, will begin production next year.

Auto supplier expansion completed at Frankfort, Ky., facility

TOPY America, a steel wheel manufacturer for the North American car and light truck markets, has completed a $38 million renovation at its Frankfort operation. The project was originally announced in late 2017.

GM investing $2 billion In Spring Hill, Tenn., plant to build electric vehicles

General Motors plans to spend $2 billion to convert its Spring Hill assembly plant into a third U.S. site to build electric vehicles. The Detroit automaker also says it will spend another $153 million to upgrade five Michigan factories for future vehicles. The company will build the Cadillac Lyriq, a small electric SUV, at the Tennessee factory. Gasoline-powered Cadillac SUVs will also continue to be built at the plant. GM is also expected to announce details of an all-electric GMC Hummer pickup truck. These are among 20 electric models the company plans to sell globally by 2023.

Auto supplier plans Alabama expansions creating 180 jobs

International Automotive Components Group North America (IAC) plans to invest over $55.9 million in expansion projects that will create 182 jobs at two Alabama facilities. IAC is committing $34.3 million to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County, which will hire 119 to produce door panels and overhead systems. In addition, IAC plans to invest $21.6 million at its manufacturing facility in Anniston, creating 63 jobs. The primary product there is automotive interior components and systems.

F&P Georgia planning another expansion

F&P Georgia is growing again. The auto parts manufacturer will invest $23 million and add at least 15 new jobs over three years. F&P is a major supplier to both Honda and Nissan.

Fifty-million-dollar Mercedes-Benz expansion in Alabama to add 373 jobs

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International plans to lease a new $53.6 million, 530,000-square-foot parts facility near its plant in Tuscaloosa County. The company is expected to create 373 jobs. Situated on 53 acres, the plant will primarily serve as a storage and sequence facility for parts used in MBUSI’s electric vehicles. The automaker is in the midst of a $1 billion expansion focused on electric vehicle production in Alabama, including a new plant in Bibb County that will make battery packs.

Autozone expands Lexington, Tenn., distribution hub

AutoZone, a retailer and distributor of aftermarket auto replacement parts, will invest $42 million to expand its current operations in Lexington. The company plans to create 45 jobs over the next five years.

Toyota hiring 150 for Huntsville engine plant

Toyota is looking for people to fill positions as part of an expansion that’s adding two new assembly lines to its Huntsville, Ala., engine plant. The 150 new hires are part of the company’s $830 million expansion that is increasing engine production.

Britain-based Arrival will build first U.S. factory in Rock Hill, S.C.

London-based Arrival, an electric vehicle company, plans to establish its first U.S. microfactory in Rock Hill. The $46 million investment in York County is expected to create 240 new jobs. Rather than a traditional automotive production line, the microfactory will allow the production of any vehicle from Arrival’s portfolio.

Truck parts maker expands to U.S., investing $13.3 million in Alabama factory

A producer of pickup truck bed parts and accessories plans to enter the U.S. market with a new factory in Alabama. Mountain Top Industries will invest $13.3 million in its new facility in Montgomery. The project is expected to create 90 new jobs.

Carvana hiring 500 in West Memphis, Ark.

Carvana in West Memphis is aiming to hire about 500 positions for its inspection center there. All the positions are entry-level inventory associates, automotive technicians, and auto body and paint technicians for its newest vehicle inspection center in West Memphis.

Tesla buys more land in Austin,Texas, next to its new assembly plant

Tesla is buying more land in Austin near the site of the $1.1 billion Gigafactory it’s building near the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The 2,000-acre property will be used for the plant’s future expansion or possibly for a battery factory.

October 2020

Porsche expanding North American HQ in Georgia

Porsche Cars North America has announced a new multi-million dollar investment in its North American headquarters in Georgia. Located at the northeast corner of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the new 33-acre development adds to the company’s existing 27-acre headquarters.

Danish company selects Alabama for first U.S. plant

Denmark-based Mountain Top Industries, which specializes in aluminum roll covers for pickup trucks, plans to open a 73,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Montgomery. The company will invest $13.3 million to open the facility, which will support 90 full-time jobs.

Driverge Vehicle Innovations expands South Carolina production campus

Driverge Vehicle Innovations, an industry leader in commercial wheelchair transportation and accessible taxis, plans to expand operations in North Charleston. The company’s $350,000 investment is projected to create 13 new jobs.

Loss Prevention Services will relocate HQ to Natchez, Miss., hire 200 new jobs

Loss Prevention Services, an auto portfolio servicing company for financial lenders (think repossession and remarketing), will invest $2.97 million to locate its corporate headquarters in Natchez. The new 45,000-square-foot facility will be able to accommodate the 300 existing local employees, with plans to fill 200 additional new jobs by summer 2022.

DMA Holdings eyes Nichols, S.C., for new hub

DMA Holdings, a supplier to the North American automotive and heavy-duty parts aftermarket, announced plans to expand operations in Marion County with the opening of a new manufacturing and distribution center. The company plans to invest more than $3.9 million and will create 25 new jobs. The company’s brands include SenSen Shocks and Struts and TekMaster Brake Wear Sensors.

The Shyft Group opens manufacturing facility in Jupiter, Fla.

The Shyft Group, a leader in specialty vehicle manufacturing, assembly and upfitting, plans to open a new 35,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Jupiter. The expansion is expected to immediately create 40 new positions in Palm Beach County.

Colorado automotive manufacturer to locate plant in Alabama

Wheel Pros, a maker of aftermarket wheels, performance tires and accessories, is locating a plant in Auburn, Ala. The project will create 300 jobs.

Automotive software firm adding jobs in Virginia

Torc Robotics, a Blacksburg, Va.-based self-driving vehicle systems software developer, is expanding. The $8.5 million project will create 350 jobs.

Military vehicle manufacturer adding jobs in Mississippi

Navistar Defense is expanding its plant in West Point, Miss. The company is investing $8 million and adding 500 new jobs.

September 2020

Mazda Toyota investing $830 million more in Huntsville, Ala., plant.
After initially investing $1.6 billion in its plant being finished in North Alabama, Mazda Toyota will make an additional investment of $830 million to install new advanced manufacturing technologies at the plant. Some of the new investment will also go into training the plant’s 4,000 employees.

Mercedes plant in Alabama among first in the world to use innovative production line system
German automaker Mercedes-Benz is one of the first automakers to use a “digital ecosystem” at its plant in Tuscaloosa County, Ala. This new system incorporates a mix of software and hardware, including sensors on the vehicles, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and hand-held tablets and smartphones.

DURA Automotive opening new Alabama facility
Michigan-based DURA Automotive Systems has announced plans to invest $59 million to open a manufacturing facility in Muscle Shoals, Ala., that will produce battery trays for electric vehicles. The project will create 279 jobs and expands the potential for Alabama’s auto industry to capitalize on the growing EV wave.

Auto supplier plans $45 million expansion in Salisbury, N.C.
Continental Structural Plastics, a manufacturer of automotive and heavy truck composite components, will expand operations with an investment of $45 million in its facility in Salisbury. The company plans to create 61 jobs in Rowan County.

Armored car maker to invest $2.3 million, create 30 jobs in Mississippi
CITE Armored is increasing its presence in Mississippi by establishing van production operations in Batesville. The project is a $2.3 million investment and will create 30 jobs by the end of 2021.

Manufacturer hiring 100 in Cottondale, Ala.
Preferred Precision Group, located in Cottondale, is looking to hire 100 people for manufacturing jobs. PPG provides outsourcing solutions to manufacturers in the automotive, medical device and aerospace industries.

Nokian Tyres adding 50 jobs to Dayton, Tenn., workforce
The Nokian Tyres factory in Dayton, Tenn., is hiring for a second shift with plans to immediately add about 50 more employees.

Toyota and Mazda investing extra $830 million into Alabama factory
Mazda Toyota Manufacturing will make an additional $830 million investment to incorporate more cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to its production lines and provide enhanced training to its workforce of up to 4,000 employees at its assembly plant in Huntsville, Ala. The original plan forecast investment to be $1.6 billion, and production was scheduled to start in 2021. Now, production is expected to start in 2022 at the $2.3 billion facility.

Tesla picks Austin for $1 billion factory
In the summer quarter, California-based Tesla announced it has chosen a site near the Austin airport for a new $1 billion assembly plant complex. The electric car manufacturer has a plant in Fremont, Calif., and one in Shanghai. It also plans to build a factory near Berlin. CEO Elon Musk promised the new facility on the Colorado River will be an “ecological paradise.” The plant will create 5,000 jobs at the start.

Vehicle age hits record high
We thought the record age of vehicles in the Great Recession was bad. This is worse. The average age of vehicles on the streets in the U.S. is now 11.9 years old. According to IHS Markit, nearly one in four vehicles are at least 16 years old.

Big automotive parts plant being built in North Georgia
GEDIA Automotive Group, a manufacturer of automotive parts, announced it will build an advanced manufacturing facility in Whitfield County, Ga. The $85 million project will create 200 jobs.

Auto supplier to add jobs in Tennessee
Automotive supplier Mann+Hummel is filling 100 jobs for its plant in Dunlap, Tenn. The plant currently houses 300 workers and makes manifolds and air boxes for Ford, GM, BMW and Nissan.

Electric vehicle parts supplier to invest in Georgia plant
GEDIA Automotive Group, a maker of parts for electric vehicles, will invest $85 million to build a manufacturing facility in Whitfield County, Ga. The project will generate 200 jobs.

Mercedes-Benz to halt C-Class production at Alabama plant
German automaker Mercedes-Benz will end production of the C-Class sedan at its plant in Vance, Ala., and at facilities in Mexico. The Tuscaloosa County  facility will go back to just making four models of SUVs.

GM hires back laid off workers at Texas plant
In the spring, GM temporarily laid off workers at its large SUV plant in Arlington, Texas. They are now hiring them back in hundreds. The workers were laid off after GM idled many assembly plants between late March and mid-May.

Toyota expands Alabama engine plant for the fifth time since 2003
In the summer quarter, Toyota Alabama announced the fifth expansion of its large engine plant in Huntsville, Ala. The Japanese automaker is adding 450 jobs in the $1.2 billion investment. Toyota’s engine plant in Alabama serves one third of all Toyota vehicles assembled in the U.S.

South Korean battery maker adding 600 jobs
SK Innovation, a manufacturer of batteries for electric vehicles, is adding 600 jobs at its plant in Commerce, Ga. In 2018, the Korean company announced a $1.6 billion, 2,000-job commitment. This expansion is worth $940 million.

Dump truck maker adding jobs in Kentucky
Truck Equipment & Body, a maker of dump truck bodies and truck equipment, is expanding in Powell County, Ky. The $2 million project will create 43 jobs.

India-based company locates facility in South Carolina

India-Based AXISCADES, an engineering firm that provides services in the automotive and aerospace industries among others, is opening a facility in Greenville, S.C.

Mercedes plans to make all factories carbon-neutral by 2022
Mercedes-Benz is opening its battery plant near its assembly facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. There, it will build electric SUV vehicles. The goal was to make electric vehicles by 2022 in Europe, but the Alabama plant has been added to the mix.

Mercedes selling SUVs to China a hot commodity
Alabama’s exports to China, even in the midst of trade tensions, grew by 26 percent in the first quarter of this year. One major player is the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Auto exports to China were up 170 percent in the first quarter. . . the vast majority of that increase came from Alabama-made Mercedes SUV exports to China.

Tennessee-based Nissan to slash production capacity
Japanese automaker Nissan, which operates its North American headquarters near Nashville, reported a $6.2 billion loss in its latest fiscal year. As a result, the company will close plants in Spain and Indonesia, reducing its models and cutting capacity in the U.S. and elsewhere. Nissan has a worldwide capacity to produce 7 million vehicles but sold only little more than 5 million last year.

Coronavirus to help Mazda Toyota fill jobs in Northern Alabama
Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, which is finishing up its $1.6 billion, 4,000-employee plant in Huntsville, Ala., will benefit from jobs lost by the coronavirus. Mazda Toyota had a huge issue prior to the virus. . .it had a 4,000-employee plant that as of the end of 2019, was being built in a market that had no labor. Then came the virus and soaring unemployment. While it will be much easier now to fill those 4,000 positions, the plant has delayed opening as a result of the pandemic.

GM’s Tennessee plant to be run by the sun in less than two years
General Motors’ Spring Hill, Tenn., plant will be run completely by solar energy in 2022. The solar energy will be provided by TVA and one of its solar farms in Lowndes County, Miss., which is currently being built.

School district in Austin dangles $68 million in incentives for Tesla
The Del Valle school district in Austin is considering an incentive package to help lure Tesla to Austin. The $68 million comes in the form of a reduction of property taxes over a 10-year period. Tesla is considering Austin to build a 4 million- to 5 million-square foot facility at a site in Southeast Austin. The electric car plant could house 5,000 or more workers.

Top Automotive Deals in the South – Spring 2018

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements made in the Spring 2018 Quarter

CompanyJobsInvestmentN/ELocationDescription
1. General Motors1,000N/AESpring Hill, Tenn. Auto Assembly
2. Van Hool NV640$47NMorristown, Tenn.Bus Assembly
3. Toyota400$170EBlue Springs, Miss.Auto Assembly
4. Dorman Products215$55ERobertson Co., Tenn.Auto Parts
5. ATLASBX200$75NClarksville, Tenn.Auto Batteries
6. Dhollandia200$30NGaston Co., N.C.Truck Parts
7. Dong-A USA200$13NMartin, Tenn.Auto Parts
8. Adient 200$10ELexington, Tenn.Auto Parts
9. TireHub150N/ANAtlanta, Ga.Headquarters
10. E-Z Hauling100$6NHarrison Co., Ky.Truck Assembly

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)

Sources: RandleReport.com

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Top Automotive Deals in the South – Winter 2018

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements made in the Winter 2018 Quarter

CompanyJobsInvestmentN/ELocationDescription
1. Mazda-Toyota4,000$1,600NHuntsville, Ala.Auto Assembly
2. EnerBlu980$412NPikeville, Ky.Auto Batteries
3. Triangle Tyre800$580NEdgecombe Co., N.C.Tires
4. Denso320$190EAthens, Tenn.Auto Parts
5. Tristone Flowtech302$23NMooresville, N.C.Auto Parts
6. Faurecia300$60NBlue Springs, Mo.Auto Parts
7. Hyliion200N/ANCedar Park, TexasHybrid Technology
8. Grupo Antolin150$50NSpartanburg Co., S.C.Auto Parts
9. Toyota Boshoku130$31EJackson, Tenn. Auto Parts
10. Bosch130$152EAnderson Co., S.C.Auto Parts
        Magna Seating130$8ESpartanburg Co., S.C.Auto Parts

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)

Sources: RandleReport.com

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Southbound – Fall 2017

The South’s economy has never been better

By Michael Randle, Editor

In 2016, the 15-state American South contributed a record $6.12 trillion (that’s with a “T”) to the United States’ economy, which saw a GDP totaling $18.57 trillion. The West contributed $4.61 trillion, which was more than any other region. Take California out of the West, and its GDP totals a mere $2 trillion.

In fact, the U.S. economy remains the largest in the world by a wide margin. China, the second largest economy on the planet, generated a GDP of $11.2 trillion in 2016 in U.S. dollars, according to the World Bank, and that means something. Last year, 64 percent of all transactions world-wide were traded in dollars. Still, the dollar reigns supreme of all known central bank foreign exchange reserves.

No other country’s currency — even multi-country currencies — comes close in transactions (the Euro is second at 19.7 percent.) Which means that although we may not be the best savers — as a nation and as citizens — no international body in its right mind would challenge U.S. debt. Not now, anyway.

The new “gross regional product” numbers for 2016 mean that the South’s economy is more than half the size of China’s. Pretty dang impressive.

There are several ways the South has accomplished this incredible feat seen in 2016. It has diversified its economic base like no time ever. Its in-migration from other U.S. regions is back to levels not seen since the 1980s, 1990s and before the Great Recession. Well-educated immigrants from other countries now want to live in the South as opposed to other regions because the South remains the least expensive place in the world’s largest economy to live and operate a business.

Furthermore, the South is unlike any of the other three regions in demography. No U.S. region has the number of mid-major markets the South has — Austin, San Antonio, Raleigh, Charlotte, Nashville, Orlando, New Orleans, Richmond, Birmingham, Louisville, Greenville and so many others. Sure, we are home to mega-markets such as Atlanta, Dallas-Fort

Worth, Houston, South Florida and D.C. But it is the vast number of mid-majors that solidify the South’s economy and help spread the wealth.

Want proof? Name a major market in Illinois other than Chicago? Name one in New York? Florida and Texas have 10 mid-majors each.

So, here is a new trophy earned by the American South. New data from the World Bank shows that the region’s 2016 GRP has forced us to make a change to our masthead. The South is no longer the fourth largest economy in the world. GDP and GRP data shows that the American South is now the third largest economy in the world with $6.12 trillion in GDP churned in 2016. For almost two decades, our masthead read, “Economic Development in the World’s Fourth Largest Economy.” Not anymore. The South is No. 3 in the world!

Here are the top 10 economies in the world, with regions of the U.S. factored in when it comes to GDP in 2016. The values are based on U.S. dollars:

1. United States$18.6 trillion
2. China$11.2 trillion
3. U.S. South$6.1 trillion
4. Japan$4.9 trillion
5. U.S. West$4.6 trillion
6. U.S. Northeast$4.2 trillion
7. Germany$3.4 trillion
8. U.S Midwest$3.4 trillion
9. U.K.$2.6 trillion
10. France$2.5 trillion

Source: World Bank

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Top Deals – Fall 2017

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements made in the Fall 2017 Quarter

CompanyJobsInvestmentN/ELocationDescription
1. Denso1,000$1000EMaryville, Tenn.Auto Parts
2. Toyota800$80EGeorgetown, KyAuto Assembly
3. Mercedes-Benz600$1000EVance, Ala.Auto Assembly
4. New Flyer550N/ANShepherdsville, Ky.Bus Assembly
5. Bocar300$115NHuntsville, Ala.Auto Parts
6. Fritz Winter300$110NFranklin, Ky.Auto Parts
7. Continental145N/AEBurke Co., N.CAuto Parts
8. Perrone Robotics127$4EAlbemarle Co., Va.Robotics
9. Nucor Steel100$23EHickman, Ark.Auto Grade Steel
10. Highline Aftermarket91N/ANMemphis, Tenn.Auto Parts

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)

Sources: RandleReport.com

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Top Deals – Summer 2017

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements made in the Summer 2017 Quarter

CompanyJobsInvestmentN/ELocationDescription
1. Sentury Tire1,000$530NLaGrange, GaTires
2. BMW1,000N/AEGreer, S.C.Auto Assembly
3. General Motors850N/AEArlington, TexasAuto Parts
4. Bolta350$49NTuscaloosa Co., Ala.Auto Parts
5. Minth Group200$13NLewisburg, TennAuto Parts
6. Carcoustics200$6NBuford, Ga.Auto Parts
7. Rudolph Logistics150$18NGreer, S.C.Auto Parts
8. Hyundai Dymos150$9EWest Point, Ga.Auto Parts
9. Continental100$113ESeguin, TexasAuto Parts
10. Frimo Group100$4NGreenville Co., S.C.Auto Parts

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)

Sources: RandleReport.com

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Southbound – Summer 2017

I’ll believe North Carolina will land the Toyota-Mazda Big Kahuna when they write the check

By Michael Randle, EDITOR

Some are saying that North Carolina is the front-runner for Toyota and Mazda’s proposed $1.6 billion, 4,000-employee plant that the Japanese automakers are shopping around the U.S. The advantages are numerous for the Tar Heel State, sources say. They cite four excellent megasites in the state — two in Chatham County near the Research Triangle, one in Randolph County near Greensboro and another in Edgecombe County near Rocky Mount. North Carolina also has one of the largest workforces in the South in an age of very tight labor.

Also weighing in North Carolina’s favor, some sources say, is the fact that the state is not currently home to what we call a “Big Kahuna,” or a major  automotive assembly plant. Plain and simple, automotive plants are the Big Kahuna in economic development. No projects have the economic effect that an automotive plant has on a state, multi-county region or a city. Simply put, they are the largest drivers of wages in the South. In 22 of the last 23 years, the automotive industry has led all sectors in the region — services or manufacturing — in large projects of 200 jobs or more.

Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Virginia are the only states left in the South that are not home to at least one major automotive assembly plant. Louisiana and Oklahoma were home to GM plants, but those closed in the last 12 years.

Of those states void of a major automotive assembly plant, North Carolina and Virginia would be ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the prospect of landing one in the Southern Automotive Corridor. After all, North Carolina was a finalist for the Toyota plant that ended up in Blue Springs, Miss., in 2007. The state was also a finalist for the Mercedes-Benz plant that announced in Alabama in 1993. In both cases, North Carolina was outbid badly by Mississippi and Alabama when it came to the incentive packages offered.

Just like those two projects, North Carolina will have to pony up for the Toyota and Mazda joint venture, unlike it has ever done for a large job generating deal. The largest incentive package I can recall that North Carolina has doled out over the last 25 years was to Dell when it opened a computer factory in Winston-Salem in 2005. That package totaled over $200 million. However, Dell didn’t even get a whiff of a large portion of that $200-plus million. The plant closed four years after opening and most of the incentives paid to Dell were returned to state and local agencies via claw back provisions.

North Carolina has written into its state budgets this year and next up to $50 million in incentives toward a “transformative” project. According to the provision, that amount could be offered by the state for a project of $4 billion in capital investment and a 5,000-employee commitment. Let me tell you, it’s going to take a lot more than $50 million to land this latest Big Kahuna. In fact, it might take $500 million to land the project, which will be the most efficient automotive factory in the world using artificial intelligence and connectivity to build automobiles. Toyota will most likely make electric Corolla models and Mazda will make electric SUVs at the proposed plant.

Other than the aforementioned sites in North Carolina, we’ve heard Toyota officials have already looked at the Glendale Megasite in Hardin County, Ky; the Huntsville Megasite in Limestone County, Ala.; and the Memphis Megasite in Haywood County, Tenn. It should be noted that in addition to Toyota’s plant in Mississippi, the automaker has an engine plant in Huntsville, Ala., and its largest U.S. plant in Georgetown, Ky. Again, in an age of very tight labor, let’s not forget there are thousands of out-of-work coal miners in Eastern Kentucky.

There have been nine new foreign-owned automotive plants built in the Southern Automotive Corridor since Mercedes announced it was building its Alabama plant in 1993. Right up to the day before that transformational Alabama project, The Wall Street Journal had picked a site in Mebane, N.C., as the site for the German automaker.

After decades of being the bridesmaid in auto assembly announcements, this Toyota-Mazda site search could actually end up in North Carolina. But I will believe it when I see North Carolina write the check for this latest Big Kahuna.

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