Toyota Plant Site Still Unclear
February 7, 2007
After Toyota has overtaken Daimler-Chrysler in 2006 and took over the third spot in the leader board that lists the biggest auto sellers in the US, it posted a strong start in the 2007 year which puts them on a spot which took them to the second spot from Ford Motor Company this year. Indeed, the Japanese car maker seems like one of their cars pushing ahead with no intention to engage the brakes and they are moving quite fast ahead.
In connection with this, the biggest Japanese car maker is planning to build another plant in the US. But where it will be put up is still uncertain to date.
The planned plant will provide 2,000 jobs aside from the 10,000 jobs that the plant will indirectly provide and it is one of the reasons why the site for the new plant is generating much interest from different areas which are eager to have a plant built on their place. But Toyota is still keeping the plans under cover. The most revealing answer from Toyota comes from the company’s spokesman, Dan Sieger, who said that “we are actively looking at sites”. The Wall Street Journal though cited Chattanooga, Tenn.; Marion, Ark.; Alamo, Tenn.; and Davidson, N.C. as possible sites for the Toyota plant.
As of now Chattanooga still would not comment on the possible building of a Toyota plant but they already have a 1,600-acre industrial site ready for use. The industrial site is once a part of a former Army TNT plant. Thus, it is labeled as a “brownfield” which means a redeveloped former industrial site. And experts see that it would work against Chattanooga since no Japanese car maker has built a plant on a location such as that. In fact, Michael Randle, the editor and publisher of Southern Business and Development magazine guesses that Toyota would locate their plant in Marion, Ark. instead.
But Tisha Calabrese-Benton, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, stated that the industrial site in Chattanooga has never been categorized as a brownfield. She further added that some cleanup job was done to the site to remove limited areas of contamination. The site is now clean enough that it reaches residential standards, she said. In fact, the site is insured if anything is found there, Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey stated.
Toyota meanwhile said through Sieger that they have located their previously built plants on greenfield locations. Greenfields are actually sites that are either agricultural or undeveloped. He added that while they look at the fact that a site is a greenfield or a brownfield, it is not an absolute prerequisite for a decision on the side of the company. But in no way is this an assurance to Chattanooga that a plant will be located on their turf since auto companies prefer greenfield sites because there is usually but not always adequate space nearby for suppliers. This is what Steven Szalasky, an economist working at the Center for Automotive Research, said.
Toyota is joining the bandwagon of Japanese car makers that are building plants in the Southeastern part of the United States since the labor costs in the said area is relatively lower than other parts of the country. In fact, Tennessee is working hard to attract carmakers to put up plants in the state which would not only help the company save on labor costs but will also help the city in the sense that new jobs will be up for grabs. An example of the commitment of Tennessee to attract car manufacturers to the area is the recent move by Nissan Motor Co. to relocate its North American headquarters to Nashville which was located previously in California.
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