DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - How do you get a supply chain in place in North Alabama for the new game-changing Mazda Toyota plant? It’s a huge undertaking and a local group is leading that charge!
The new $1.6 billion facility being built in Huntsville could create as many 16,000 jobs on top of the 4,000 workers the car companies will be hiring.
"You'll also have the opportunity for people that will gain jobs through service industry- restaurants, hotels, banks, gas stations. You're going to see a lot of support businesses come into North Alabama. It's literally something we've never had," explained Brooks Kracke.
He is the president and CEO of the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, or NAIDA, recruiting suppliers for the plant, across the 13 county region they serve.
“Mazda Toyota is coming. They’ve announced what they’re going to do and now their suppliers are putting their game plan together to see what they need to do to come in and support those two companies going forward,” he said.
NAIDA was formed in 1949. It is one of the oldest regional economic development organizations in the United States.Its primary goal was to create jobs for the region because back then, the main industry was agriculture.
"People needed better jobs, better opportunities, better pay, better skills," Kracke said.
TVA, Huntsville Utilities and Decatur Utilities were some of the first partners.
"They came together to form an organization to promote the TVA region of North Alabama, which is 13 counties. So our everyday job and focus is to create awareness and marketing opportunities for companies to come and look at North Alabama and hopefully expand here and create quality jobs," Kracke added.
After Mazda Toyota Manufacturing announced that their new manufacturing facility would be coming to Huntsville in January, NAIDA started working on a microsite.
"It's a site that resides behind our main homepage and we asked our communities in North Alabama, our 13 counties, to give us their top five buildings and sites and we want to highlight those on the site. We want to highlight them and showcase them on this website. We wanted it to be very user friendly and simple," Kracke said.
The microsite has drawn interest from companies and organizations from the U.S., Japan, India, China, Israel, Germany, Poland, Russia, the Czech Republic and beyond. The State of Alabama has been touting its success.
Now, some businesses are starting to make visits to scope things out.
"We launched that in March and we've had over than 3-4000 hits. We've had numerous countries look at us. What our ultimate goal is to have some of the countries who've visited the site online, we want them to come and set foot in Alabama and visit the properties they've look at. And that is happening," Kracke stated.
"The site location process is lengthy. There's a lot of nuances that go along with it. A lot of elimination. They do a lot of legwork in house before they get on a plane," he added. "It's created a lot of interest in North Alabama and that's what we wanted to do."
NAIDA is working to put together an asset based mapping catalog to show companies.
"If you need HVAC, electrical, or contractors of any kind, here's who we have, here's where they can be found and here's how you can contact them," Kracke explained.
So what's Alabama's secret? It's become a top manufacturing state and that continues to create momentum.
"The profile of the state of Alabama has gone up. And it's not just automobiles," Kracke said." There's aerospace and aviation and aeronautics.There are things taking place in Alabama that a lot of people don't realize. The focus is starting to narrow in on Alabama and who we are and what we do."
There are 106 auto companies that are located in North Alabama and they serve Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes, BMW and VW in Tennessee.
"What Mazda Toyota brings is more suppliers coming to the area so they'll be coming in to supply the plant. It also means that the companies that are already in existence today will gain more business because of this project. So it's growth all across the region," Kracke stated.
The Mazda Toyota plant is the first OEM in North Alabama that will produce a fully completed automobile. It stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. A completed automobile will come off the assembly line ready for shipment.
It is expected to launch production in 2021 with an eventual output of 300,000 vehicles annually.
“In 2016, there were 10 million automobiles produced in Alabama since Mercedes went into production. So now we’re going to have 300,000 units coming from Mazda and Toyota combined so that’s going to raise Alabama’s footprint in the automobile industry,” Kracke added.