NC a finalist for Toyota-Mazda vehicle plant

Bloomberg News, citing "people familiar with the negotiations", reported Tuesday that Alabama is the other finalist for the $1.6 billion auto factory that would employ 4,000. North Carolina, home to the tech triangle, does not now host an automotive plant. The other three mega-sites are near Siler City and Moncure in Chatham County and east of Rocky Mount in Edgecombe County.

Even with the 10-digit incentive package demand, 15 states jumped at the chance to secure the new plant and its thousands of jobs, including the usual suspects: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Texas, Mississippi, Illinois and SC, which are already home to several auto plans.

A Tennessee official confirmed last week that a site near Memphis had been taken out of the running.

Toyota already operates a broad network of factories in the USA, but Mazda hasn't operated a plant there since exiting a long-running joint venture with Ford Motor Co. several years ago in southeastern MI. Whatever the competition, North Carolina keeps surfacing as a finalist.

Activity at the site in recent weeks suggests that local officials are taking no chances.

The Randolph County Planning Board was set to vote Tuesday night on a rezoning request that would add 370 acres to the 1,500-acre mega-site south of Greensboro. Mazda and Toyota plan to announce their final choice by early next year, Akira Marumoto, Mazda's executive vice president, told reporters in Tokyo earlier this month. As we previously reported, the factory should produce around 300,000 vehicles a year and create as many as 4,000 new jobs.

The shared facility is expected to open in 2021.

Vanessa Coleman