When Toyota Came Calling, N.C. Was Ready to Give Away the Store | News
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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

When Toyota Came Calling, N.C. Was Ready to Give Away the Store

Posted by on Wed, Feb 7, 2018 at 9:10 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

Last month, North Carolina missed out on a Toyota-Mazda joint manufacturing operation near Greensboro, with that plant and its four thousand jobs, instead going to Alabama. Yesterday, the N&O found emails showing what kind of economic incentives the state was considering.
  • “Last month the state was runner-up to Alabama despite extraordinary efforts by North Carolina officials, who promised $1.6 billion in financial incentives. The records were released by the state Department of Commerce on Monday evening in response to public record requests. The records show North Carolina worked hard to anticipate what the Japanese automakers might want, and to meet their extensive requirements for what was dubbed Project New World.”
  • “Christopher Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of N.C., in several emails prepped Gov. Roy Cooper and other officials on how to woo high-ranking Toyota officials during their two visits to North Carolina last fall. Chung relayed that the Chicago-based commercial real estate company representing Toyota ‘emphasized how important it was for the Toyota folks to feel the love about how important this project is to North Carolina. This needs to come across loud and clear in language, tone, verbal and non-verbal communications.’”
The incentive package went something like this, per the N&O:
  • “$2 million in-kind to NCWorks, a state job development network started under former Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration, for employee screening.
  • $16.4 million for job training.
  • $25 million for a specialized training center.
  • $3 million for an apprenticeship program to teach new skills.
  • $100,000 for a ‘Japanese Saturday school’ to instruct the children of Japanese managers in their native language for when they returned home. The Huntsville, Ala., Town Council approved $250,000 for the school.
  • $48 million in land conveyed at no cost from the North Carolina Railroad Corp., the megasite foundation and Randolph County.
  • $76 million for infrastructure from a special state fund aimed at the largest of projects.
  • $37 million in water and sewer improvements from the Golden Leaf Foundation and the city of Greensboro.
  • $18 million for rail connection paid for by the state Department of Transportation and Norfolk Southern.
  • $79 million in road improvements from DOT.
  • $53 million in electric infrastructure.
  • $63 million in natural gas with 7 miles of pipeline extension and 6 ½ miles of pipeline looping.
  • $656,650,000 in corporate income and franchise tax breaks.
  • $54 million in sales tax exemption on building materials.
  • $215 million from the state JDIG grant program, $200 million from the One N.C. program.
  • $100,000 in a Randolph County property tax grant.”

WHAT IT MEANS: The state lost out to Alabama, which similarly promised in excess of $1 billion in incentives. But the scope of its offer—for just four thousand jobs—is revealing, especially in light of the underway jockeying for Amazon’s HQ2 [INDY]. That project, after all, will bring fifty thousand jobs, more than ten times what the Toyota plant would have. So just imagine what kind of incentives the state and Triangle region will be willing to throw at Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the history of the world.

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