Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Toyota’s plans for battery plant in Liberty energize hopes for spillover impact in Alamance Co.

This week’s news that Toyota will set up a plant in Liberty to make batteries for electric vehicles has sparked expectations among officials in Alamance County that they, too, will share in the good fortune of the nearby Randolph County community.

The driving force for this cross-jurisdictional excitement was an announcement on Monday from the office of Governor Roy Cooper about Toyota’s search for a suitable place to produce batteries for its lines of hybrid and electrified vehicles.

According to the governor’s office, the Japanese carmaker’s North American subsidiary has zeroed in on a 1,800 acre “shovel-ready” site that a constellation of government agencies and organizations have laid out along US 421 just south of the Randolph-Guilford border. Since its creation more than six years ago, this “Greensboro-Randolph megasite” has been aggressively marketed to the automotive industry. This strategy finally paid off when Toyota agreed to park its new battery plant at this location – thanks, in part, to a Job Development Investment Grant from the state that could be worth more than $79 million over a 20-year period.

In return for the state government’s largesse, Toyota has pledged to invest $1.29 billion into a new manufacturing plant with a workforce of at least 1,750 people whose annual salaries are expected to average $62,234. The carmaker has indicated that it may ultimately invest up to $3 billion into the facility, while expanding its workforce to 3,875 employees – moves that would trigger a corresponding increase in the state’s financial incentives to some $315 million over 39 years.

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According to the governor’s office, the payoff from the state’s financial pledge to the company won’t be limited to the Randolph County location of Toyota’s proposed operations. The state currently estimates that the economic activity generated by the new plant will send at least $9.5 billion coursing through North Carolina’s economy over the next two decades.

The residual effects from Toyota’s facility would presumably have the greatest impact on its immediate surroundings in Randolph and Guilford counties. But the sheer scale of the proposed operation has also raised the prospect of spillover benefits into Alamance County.

Peter Bishop, the economic development director for the city of Burlington, conceded that the ripples from Toyota’s operations could reach as far as the jurisdiction he represents.

“There will be a spillover effect with opportunities for the E.V. [or electrified vehicle] industry,” he told The Alamance News on Tuesday.

“I think it will bring other businesses to Alamance County which will serve that plant. It will also bring a lot of jobs, and a lot of citizens of Alamance County will be employees at that facility.” – alamance county commissioner chairman john Paisley, Jr.

The new facility’s need for ancillary services has also stirred the hopes of John Paisley, Jr., a Graham-based attorney who serves as the chairman of Alamance County’s commissioners.

“I think it will bring other businesses to Alamance County which will serve that plant,” Paisley predicted on Tuesday. “It will also bring a lot of jobs, and a lot of citizens of Alamance County will be employees at that facility.”

The potential boon from Toyota’s decision has had an added immediacy for state senator Amy Scott Galey, a Union Ridge resident whose district was recently redrawn to include the Randolph County megasite in addition to her own home turf in Alamance County.

“It’s going to be a white hot property. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities for people in Alamance County to go there and get some of those good jobs. It will also put pressure on land use and development in the Snow Camp area.” – state senator amy galey

“It’s going to be a white hot property,” Galey declared in a brief conversation on Tuesday. “There’s going to be a lot of opportunities for people in Alamance County to go there and get some of those good jobs. It will also put pressure on land use and development in the Snow Camp area.”

Paisley, for his part, also said he expects this project to influence development in Snow Camp. The chairman of Alamance County’s commissioners predicted that the proximity of Toyota’s plant will add emphasis to the county’s ongoing efforts to craft zoning for this rural, unincorporated community. Paisley also foresees an influx of housing in that part of the county to accommodate the automaker’s prospective workforce.

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