It was 190 miles away from the epicenter, but the celebration was no less enthusiastic.
One hundred or so community leaders from across north Alabama gathered at the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce Wednesday afternoon for a simulcast of the announcement in Montgomery that Mazda and Toyota would located a $1.6 joint-venture manufacturing facility in Huntsville.
The room erupted in applause when the announcement was made official, and again at the on-screen appearance of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who called this “a legacy project” for the area.
To get phenomenal companies such as Toyota and Mazda to land in your community, it will bring great things for our entire region.”
It will not only provide jobs within the next two or three years, but will be an on-going source of employment, as well as tax revenue for the city, counties and state, Battle said.
“Transformational” is how it was described by Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield.
‘A rising tide’ for economy
The facility, which will house some 4,000 jobs, will be a boost to Huntsville and Limestone County economically, and should have a ripple effect throughout all facets of the community as residential and retail are sure to follow. As Dr. Robert Glenn, president of Athens State University, said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
“Toyota has been a tremendous community partner for Huntsville for many years,” said Gary Bolton, chair-elect for the Chamber of Commerce. “For us to be able to take this to the next level with this joint venture, this provides a lot of tailwind for future economic growth.”
“We’re very excited,” said Barbie Peek, Director for Business Development for the Port of Huntsville. “Any time that you get phenomenal companies such as Toyota and Mazda to land in your community, it will bring great things for our entire region. Speaking from the Port of Huntsville side, we hope they’ll be using all the multimodal transportation operation that we have in place.”
Along with the traditional passenger service at Huntsville International Airport, the Port of Huntsville boasts of the International Intermodal Center that provides rail and air cargo; five air cargo companies are located there and there are nonstop flights to five international destinations. Among the priorities for Toyota and Mazda was a location with efficient transportation amenities, so the Port of Huntsville was still another asset for the area.
“We have a first-class unique facility sitting right here,” Peek said. “It’s such a jewel for the community. When people need to move their people and their products, we have international access.”
‘We’re No. 1!’
Along with the group gathered at the Chamber, a large delegation from Huntsville attended the announcement in Montgomery. However, one interested party couldn’t be at either location. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who represents the 5th Congressional District, issued a statement.
“Toyota and Mazda’s decision to locate in Limestone County is great news for Alabama and the Tennessee Valley,” Brooks said. “I’m thankful Alabama was selected despite fierce competition from other states vying for this plant. Toyota and Mazda’s decision validates what many of us in Alabama already know. Alabama is not only America’s No. 1 football state, we are also on a path to be America’s No. 1 automotive production state.
“The Tennessee Valley did not win the Toyota and Mazda competition overnight. Rather, this victory is the culmination of decades of hard work and leadership offered by local, state and federal officials who have consistently worked together to make the Tennessee Valley a great place to live and work.”