Site Selection Stories: Toyota/Mazda, Part 1

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Welcome to a special episode of JLL Chicago Industrial – Real Time. Our new, three-part mini-series, Site Selection Stories: Toyota Mazda, will take you behind the before, during and after of Toyota Mazda’s historic, $1.6-billion investment in a new auto plant in Huntsville, Alabama. Meet the key players:

Listen to this podcast with the player above or click here.

Over the past few decades, Toyota has been a key player in creating a thriving foreign auto industry on U.S. soil. Last year, the car company punctuated its success by opening its $1-billion headquarters in Plano, Texas. A site search led by JLL, the move consolidated top talent into the company’s new, 2.4-million-square-foot home, laying the groundwork for a unified culture and team.

Toyota’s 14 American vehicle, assembly and component plants have proved to be major boons for the markets they locate in, creating jobs and economic ecosystems that far exceed each factory’s four walls. Recognizing the value of U.S. manufacturing and labor, Toyota committed to investing $10 billion in the country over the next five years.

In 2017, the auto industry giant needed a site for a new, multi-million-square-foot plant. With a hard deadline of going online in 2021, they needed it fast. After years of partnership, our team was already well-versed in Toyota’s priorities and process and we mobilized overnight, marshalling resources from across the firm to attack the project from all angles. Our data-driven analyses of real estate, labor and incentives requirements set the foundation for an expedited site search executed with surgical precision.

When Toyota found a like-minded partner in Mazda, this undertaking, known as Project Mitt, was elevated to historic proportions. Mazda shared Toyota’s philosophies around innovation and productivity, and both firms stood to benefit from the unique synergies of working together within one facility. The economies of scale, powerful supplier infrastructure and complementary manufacturing strengths will elevate both automakers with a never-before-seen competitive advantage in the industry.

When Project Mitt grew into Project New World, the playing field changed and we pivoted with it. Our proprietary, high-level screening model allowed our site algorithm to expand instantaneously and exponentially, as we strategically translated the project’s ballooning parameters into actionable data on 100-plus requirements. By aggregating and ranking workforce, operating environment, site specifics, logistics, incentives and quality of life, we quickly narrowed the site list to those truly deserving of further, in-person exploration.

Up next, we’re taking you on the cross-country search of 20-plus states in six weeks. We looked at everything from infrastructure to utilities to demographics, and the sites that differentiated themselves had clearly done their homework. Stay tuned for Part 2.

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