Years of trying to land a manufacturing plant from a major automaker have finally paid off for the State of North Carolina.
Earlier this week, Toyota announced that it had selected the Randolph County community of Liberty for the home of its electric battery manufacturing plant. The plant, slated to go online in 2025, will hire upwards of 1,750 people and produce 800,000 lithium-ion batteries with the potential to add 400,000 more. Notably, the $1.29 billion investment represents the largest by any automotive manufacturer in the history of the state.
Welcome to North Carolina, Toyota
“I welcome Toyota to North Carolina,” said Senator Phil Berger, President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate. “We’ve worked hard to transform North Carolina into a jobs-friendly state with low taxes, reasonable regulations, and a world-class education system. As a result, companies big and small are creating jobs here, continuing a decade of growth.”
North Carolina had been in the running for other plants for many years. Most recently, it lost out to Alabama in its bid for the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing Plant. Just before that, South Carolina won the Volvo plant, further adding to that state’s automotive prowess that includes plants for Robert Bosch, BMW, Mercedes-Benz Vans (Sprinter), and ZF, among others.
But it wasn’t for lack of trying that North Carolina failed. Instead, it found itself going up against a region of other southeastern states, including Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. These states seemed to always offer better incentives. In some cases, their proximity to the I-10 corridor made it easy for them to build plants near suppliers.
Tech Hub and Manufacturing Base
On the other hand, North Carolina has successfully established itself as a tech hub, thanks mostly due to Research Triangle Park. Still, the state has wanted to get its share of the expanding manufacturing pie, especially as more overseas manufacturers set up shop or expanded their holdings. Through various administrations, Democrat and Republican, the state went to bat only to strike out each time.
This time, though, North Carolina came out on top and with one of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers at that. But, Toyota isn’t building the plant without financial backing. Indeed, the state pledged $438.7 million of taxpayer funds to lure the giant, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
But the incentives do not stop there. Indeed, the newspaper says that several other state entities, including the community college foundation, added $55 million. Further, Randolph County will kick in $167.3 million. Another $135 million from the state budget will cover site preparation costs. Toyota may also be eligible for $79.1 million of Job Development Investment Grant over the next 20 years if it meets its higher and investment goals.
Strong Business Climate
“I am proud of the hard work the General Assembly has done to ensure North Carolina is a state ripe for new business and innovation,” said North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore. “North Carolina consistently ranks as the nation’s top state business climate. We have a balanced budget, have invested in a strong workforce, and we’ve maintained a AAA credit rating. As North Carolina continues to grow, Toyota’s investment is a sign that we are doing the right things to attract people and businesses to our thriving state.”
Toyota may not be done with North Carolina and made that point known at Monday’s news conference announcing its decision. A second phase could launch in the 2030s, enabling the company to expand its battery capacity and double its workforce. If it does so and pushes its investment to at least $3 billion, the automaker would be eligible for additional state backing.
The governor’s office reported that the salaries for the new jobs at the plant will fluctuate by position, but all together will average $62,234. Thus, the regional payroll will increase by more than $100 million annually. At present, Randolph County’s overall average annual wage is $37,865. Therefore, the good-paying jobs at Toyota are also likely to be followed by more jobs by other companies that will set up shop in the area.