- A Toyota-Mazda joint venture has awarded Ghafari Associates the architecture and engineering services contract for a $1.6 billion automotive plant in Huntsville, Alabama, according to a press release from Ghafari. Engineering News-Record ranked Ghafari No. 108 on its 2018 Top 500 Design Firms list.
- The parcel on which the new Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc. factory will be built is a greenfield site, and the complex will feature press, welding and paint shops, a general assembly facility, a test track, a support building and an administrative building, which will house company offices, locker rooms and a cafeteria.
- Construction of the complex is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter, and vehicles should go into production in 2021. The facility is expected to produce 300,000 vehicles per year, and manufacturing will be split between a new Mazda model and the Toyota Corolla.
Manufacturing projects are always encouraging news for a sector that has lost thousands of jobs since 1979. During that year, according to Reuters, one in five American workers held positions in that sector. By February 2017, the number of those working manufacturing jobs had fallen to less than 10% of the workforce.
So it makes sense that states are willing to vie for manufacturing projects that will bring some of those jobs back for their residents by offering tax breaks and other incentives. Altogether, state and local agencies have offered Toyota and Mazda a $700 million package of benefits to build the plant in Huntsville, according to Bloomberg.
Wisconsin has been especially aggressive about drawing manufacturing businesses to the state. Last month, Green Bay Packaging and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker together announced that the company would invest $500 million to build a new recycled paper mill and expand its existing shipping container business in Green Bay. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is working with Green Bay Packaging on a financial assistance package that could deliver up to $60 million to the company in return for meeting job creation goals. The project is expected to create about 3,000 jobs and inject $257 million into the regional economy.
One of Wisconsin's biggest catches so far has been the $10 billion flat-panel display manufacturing complex for Taiwanese electronics company Foxconn Technology Group. In order to ensure Foxconn's move, the state authorized $3 billion in tax and other breaks for the company, but the money is also tied to Foxconn's ability to create jobs for local workers.