Kentucky wants a $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda plant. Can Bevin ‘beat’ other states to it?

Courtesy of Toyota

Lexington Herald-Leader

Kentucky will pursue a new $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda plant, according to Gov. Matt Bevin who told WDRB he intends to beat other states that want the plant.

Bevin said the state is the ideal central location and provides access to existing Toyota suppliers because of the huge Georgetown Toyota plant, where the the Camry model is built, WDRB reported. Bevin spoke at the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association’s annual conference in Lexington.

Bevin touted a “personal relationship” with Toyota Motor Corp. president Akio Toyoda that could aid the state’s bid for the plant, which would employ about 4,000 people.

Gov. Matt Bevin

“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,” Bevin told WDRB.

WDRB reported that one possible site is off Interstate 65 near Elizabethtown.

The planned plant would produce Toyota Corollas and Mazda crossovers. Mississippi has a Corolla plant and is considered a front-runner for the plant, Bloomberg reported. It’s also possible that the company could build in a state without a Toyota presence.

Toyota won $43.5 million in Kentucky incentives this year for a $1.3 billion upgrade to the Georgetown plant to change its production methods. The new approach is called Toyota New Global Architecture.

The company describes the method as “a completely new strategy to the way the company designs, engineers and manufactures its vehicles … (that) will shorten the development cycle for vehicle improvements and new vehicles.” The recently unveiled 2018 Camrys are the first Toyota vehicle built with the new approach.

Jack Conner, president of Scott County United, said he would welcome the plant, but the likelihood of that is low. Scott County United is a group that assists companies with economic development for Scott County.

Despite his skepticism, Conner said the $1.3 billion upgrade to the existing plant is an important investment because it gives the Georgetown Toyota plant additional economic life and would keep the current Toyota base intact.

“That’s the key,” he said. “And then we work off of that down further to our suppliers and others that can also get benefit from capital investments.”

Toyota officials with the Georgetown plant offered no comment Monday. Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather said he had heard about the proposed partnership on national news, but he didn’t have further information.