HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A., Inc. held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Huntsville plant on Friday.
Speakers included Governor Kay Ivey, Senator Doug Jones, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and a number of representatives from Toyota and Mazda.
“This ceremony really celebrates the new partnership of Mazda and Toyota, and also the joint partnership with the state of Alabama, city of Huntsville, Limestone County and Madison County,” said Mark Brazeal, VP of Administration at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing.
“Mazda Toyota Manufacturing represents what we’re all about here in Alabama, providing opportunities for our people, being innovative and finding success when we work together,” added Governor Kay Ivey.
An industrial robot armed with a shovel did the honors, showing the technology that’s coming to the plant.
The massive facility is being built on a TVA Megasite in Limestone County and will create 4,000 jobs.
It will be located just north of the Greenbrier Restaurant and will span across 3,000 acres.
The jointly owned-and-operated automotive production plant will have the capacity to build 300,000 vehicles a year, beginning in 2021. It’s a $1.6 billion investment by the two companies.
The plant will build Toyota’s Corolla, whose all-new 2020 model was unveiled in California, and Mazda’s yet-to-be revealed crossover model.
“We’ve helped Alabama become America’s top five auto producing states and an industry leader in producing the next generation of cars that will power our nation into the future,” said Jim Lentz, CEO, Toyota Motor North America.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle thanked everyone who helped bring the project to North Alabama. He says the Rocket City is also a “mobility city."
“Make no mistake. We will not just be building cars and SUVs here, we will be building opportunity,” the mayor added.
As part of the groundbreaking, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A., Inc. (MTMUS) donated $750,000 to support STEM-related programs that will encourage and motivate students to pursue a career in the advanced manufacturing field. With 4,000 jobs to fill, MTMUS is investing in developing its future workforce in collaboration with local educators and economic development partners. The donation includes:
- $500,000 to the Huntsville Madison County Chamber Foundation to launch a new career exploration online platform that will help highlight careers in manufacturing to students, build skills and connect job seekers to opportunities. The goal is to work with local school systems and promote this tool as a resource for career coaches and teachers.
- $250,000 to be split between six school districts in Madison County, Limestone County and Morgan County. Support is aimed at STEM or career technical programs that align with advanced manufacturing. The schools include:
- Huntsville City Schools
- Madison County Schools
- Madison City Schools
- Limestone County Schools
- Decatur City Schools
- Morgan County Schools
In addition, the Mazda Foundation (USA), Inc. donated:
- $50,000 to Boys & Girls Club of North Alabama
- $50,000 to Food Bank of North Alabama
- $20,000 to Greater Huntsville Humane Society
Jim Lentz said crews have a lot to do as construction ramps up.
“We have to start by getting the facility in place, getting all of the equipment ordered in place and parallel to that, starting to hire folks. That will probably begin within the next six months and then by 2021, we’ll be building the all new Corolla at the plant. So we’re really excited,” he added.
Mayor Battle explained that infrastructure work has been ongoing at the site and around it to prepare for the project.
“We’re working quickly because we want to make sure that we’re in production by the end of 2020, first of 2021. It’s a hard task to hit that because it’s a quick build. I think we can do it and that means the jobs come that much sooner,” he said.
Along with the robot turning dirt at the ceremony, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing also introduced its new leadership team, which includes some Alabama natives.
Governor Ivey says the project: “Showcases to the world that Alabama has an unparalleled workforce, great people and strong business climate.”