Mayor Tommy Battle and Chamber of Commerce CEO Chip Cherry returned from their 5th trip to Japan to meet with Huntsville’s automotive partners.

Amid the Huntsville buzz over landing the coveted Mazda-Toyota joint-venture, it was illuminating to return to Japan in late April to witness the enthusiasm from top-level executives about this landmark project.

There is no doubt the longstanding relationship we’ve cultivated and nurtured with our Japanese friends and partners helped facilitate the automakers’ decision to choose Huntsville over dozens of prime locations in the U.S.

Our relationship with Toyota goes back 15 years when the automotive giant first decided to build an engine plant in North Huntsville. Since that time, we’ve found the Toyota team to be honorable business leaders and enthusiastic corporate citizens. Their dedication to social responsibility is unmatched, and it is with great pride we see the Toyota name supporting our cultural institutions, schools and parks.

The promise of a better future is at the heart of this collaboration.”

To better understand our Japanese partners, we’ve made a point to regularly travel to their country. Through these visits, we’ve cultivated a mutual respect that has deepened our global partnership. During this last trip, our expanded team included Mazda executives, providing an added excitement to a stream of conversations about timetables, site-prep schedules and future opportunities.

Culture and Vision

There is a profound sense that this is more than just making cars. The Japanese are masters in creating beauty, harmony and function. The Mazda-Toyota team has aspirations of perfecting the form of their automobile to better serve humanity and the environment. They chose Huntsville as the place to make it happen, a credit to the smart talent and dedication of our local workforce.

Technology and innovation are part of the Huntsville culture. You don’t need to look further to recognize kindred spirits than the founding statements and corporate philosophy from Toyota and Mazda leaders. Sakichi Toyoda desired his employees to be “studious, creative, and stay ahead of the times.” Mazda envisions cars “existing sustainably with the earth and society.” These are goals that fit well within the mindset of Huntsville.

A project of this magnitude would typically take many years to plan and implement. To meet Mazda and Toyota’s ambitious goal to open in 2021 is a daunting task requiring a monumental aggressive effort. Huntsville is up to the challenge! I was proud to relay to Mazda and Toyota the progress and commitment of the Huntsville team in fulfilling its responsibilities in getting the site ready for construction.

Collaboration and Opportunity = Jobs

We’re working to ensure Mazda-Toyota Motor Manufacturing USA is successful. Their success is Huntsville’s success. The joint project will spur development and prosperity across Alabama and the southeast. From the port of Mobile where car parts will be offloaded into containerized freight, to the truckers that will make deliveries, to the network of tier 1 and 2 automotive suppliers positioning to build in the center of Alabama to better serve Mazda-Toyota, Honda, Mercedes and Hyundai and automotive plants in Mississippi, Tennessee and beyond – this is a game changer for us all.

The promise of a better future is at the heart of this collaboration. Yes, it is about business, and it is about jobs – thousands and thousands of jobs – but I can also tell you from my personal experience with our Japanese partners that this is also about something much more. The opportunities are just beginning. We’re valuable members of the Mazda-Toyota team, and I’m proud of Huntsville and Alabama for taking its rightful place on the global stage.