HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A site selection team for Mazda and Toyota is revealing why Huntsville was selected as the site for the automakers' new $1.6 billion auto assembly plant.
A team from JLL Chicago discussed “Project New World” during a recent podcast series, explaining that Huntsville was chosen because the city was “ready, willing and able.”
They added that the site in Limestone County “showed years of thoughtful preparation,” and that the region “has ample advanced manufacturing expertise.”
The automakers celebrated the official start of construction with a groundbreaking on Friday.
It's been called "one of the most coveted industrial prizes in years." The 2,000-acre site is located in an annexed area in Limestone County. The assembly plant with 4,000 workers.
"Alabama and the city of Huntsville, Madison County, Limestone County- all of the locals really made this happen. Everyone came together to welcome Mazda Toyota Manufacturing to the state of Alabama," said Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield.
"I think we just continue to build on the success in the Limestone County portion. You take Polaris and what we've done there and GE Aviation. This is just the next step. We have great land owners and partners and elected leaders. I can't say enough about our elected leaders on the county and city side in this region. That's what really put us over the top," added Shane Davis, Urban and Economic Development Director for the City of Huntsville.
The jointly owned-and-operated automotive production plant will have the capacity to build 300,000 vehicles a year, beginning in 2021. It's a $1.6 billion investment by the two companies.
The plant will build Toyota's Corolla, whose all-new 2020 model was unveiled in California, and Mazda's yet-to-be revealed crossover model.
"It's a North Alabama regional partnership. We're just glad that we get to be a small part of it, especially anytime that we can come together to make things happen, not only for our jobs and our educational facility and also our quality of life," said Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks.
"What's going on here in North Alabama- more than 25000 new jobs in just the last six years. We look at these 4000 jobs with this plant and diversifying the economy is going to make us even stronger. These relationships started more than 18 years ago when we were negotiating to bring an engine plant here. I'm thankful for the workers at Toyota. The quality that they do has opened this door and now we've got to continue in the same direction to grow our economy," added Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong.
The decision for the plant’s location came down to the site in Huntsville and another in North Carolina.
The JLL team recognized that Huntsville had a lot to offer.
The site was already assembled, and it offered a large buffer zone so the plant could fit in harmoniously with the community, the JLL team said.
Huntsville’s economic development team was very responsive.
"There were days where we worked 18, 19 hours when we got down to the end of this. They never wavered. They were with us. They didn't care what time of the day it was," they said in the podcast.
Alabama’s extensive auto industry was a positive.
On Jan. 10, 2018, Mazda Motor Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Masamichi Kogai and Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda were together in Montgomery to announce the outcome of the "Project New World" site search.
Ghafari Associates, which is providing comprehensive architectural and engineering services on the construction project, said plans call for the Mazda-Toyota complex in Huntsville to span six million square feet.
The campus will include a press shop, welding shop, paint shop, general assembly facility, test track, ancillary support building, and an administration building with offices, locker rooms, and cafeteria.
The companies want the new plant to be up and running by 2021.