As happens during the high pressure bidding wars we now refer to as “economic development,” there is more than a little bit of testosterone-driven, rally-the-troops speech going on.
As Toyota Motor Corp and Mazda Motor Corp begin to scour the US for where to put the first auto assembly plant announced under President Donald Trump, one state looks like a frontrunner: Mississippi.
The Magnolia State already is home to a Corolla factory that’s been producing the compact car for almost six years. Toyota and Mazda plan to open a US $1.6 billion new facility to produce that model, plus a Mazda crossover, starting in 2021.
Hanging in the balance for states vying for the factory are 4,000 jobs that the two Japanese automakers expect to create through their joint investment. Locating the plant near Toyota’s existing manufacturing site in Blue Springs would enable the two to source parts from companies nearby that feed components to the Corolla. A head-start on a supplier network would be particularly attractive for Mazda, which doesn’t have a US plant.
“We do have supply lines in the US that are pretty extensive, particularly for the Corolla,” said Scott Vazin, a Toyota spokesman. “We hope these supply lines can be utilised for this new entity, because there are clearly some efficiencies in it.”
Toyota Executives announced on August 4 that the automaker would be “taking a 5 percent stake in Mazda and that the companies would jointly build an assembly plant in the United States and would pool resources on new technologies.”
State Government Officials “Reckless” Attitude Over Economic Development Insulting To Mississippi Taxpayers.
Eleven States In Contention
The competition between sites is stiff. The Wall Street Journal reports that as many as eleven states are vying for the project putting Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas on the “short list”.
With any large manufacturing project, incentives will play a role. Every state will try to lure an auto manufacturer with a lucrative package, Alan Baum, an independent auto analyst told AL.com about that states chances. But other, more traditional factors, such as an existing workforce and supplier base, will probably play a bigger role in where the plant is built.
“They’ll be happy to accept any incentives, but that may be less important than whether suppliers are nearby,” he said. “Does the existing workforce have the proper skills? After a point, you’re back to standard issues.”
Tennessee Pick Would Offer Boost To Mississippi
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he is making the case for Japanese automakers to build there, as well. The report mentions the Memphis Regional Megasite as one getting attention in Tennessee.
The proximity of Memphis to one of Mississippi’s most populated areas in Desoto County means Mississippi would likely feel some of the benefits of those Tennessee tax dollars invested in the project without having to spend a dime, should our neighbors to the north land the project.
Go, Fight, Win!
As happens during the high pressure bidding wars we now refer to as “economic development,” there is more than a little bit of testosterone-driven rally-the-troops speech going on. Comments to the media and the public oftentimes make governors and state officials sound more like sports fans than elected executives.
“It doesn’t bother me to tell people who are going full at it, because I suspect other credible players will be going full at it. And I intend to beat them,” Governor Matt Bevin told a Lexington, Kentucky television station.
Says Tennessee Governor Haslam: “There will be a lot people fighting hard for that plant, and we intend to be at the lead.”
It is unfortunate that the spirit of competition so overwhelms these grown men that they don’t stop long enough to calmly assess how much they are willing to give to get.
After all, it’s not their money they’re gambling with.