Welcome to the third episode of our new, three-part miniseries, Site Selection Stories: Toyota Mazda. We’re taking 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:
- Incentives expert Meredith O’Connor
- Site selection pro Trevor Ragsdale
- Industrial innovator Kris Bjorson
- Research guru Christian Beaudoin
Listen to this podcast with the player above or click here.
Life after the decision. When the news broke in January, Toyota Mazda’s new auto plant was lauded by Corporate America and politicians alike.
It’s an example of two savvy automakers choosing to collaborate and fortify a shared competitive advantage as technology companies continue to focus on the industry as one ripe for disruption. With the 50 top car companies comprising just 20 percent of the 15 largest tech companies’ market capitalization, according to KPMG, scale, shared resources and innovation will be key to future success. Toyota took it one step further last month, making a $500-million investment in Uber focused on the development of autonomous vehicles.
As the lines between automakers and tech firms continue to blur, it’s becoming more important than ever for sites to take a more sophisticated approach with their proposals. While Toyota Mazda landed in Alabama, states from the Carolinas to Texas to Kentucky had dynamic presentations that position them well to capture future projects. They differentiated by showcasing a comprehensive understanding of the labor supply they offer and the breadth of accurate, relevant information they synthesized.
The entire process bodes well for the future of American advanced manufacturing, our experts agreed, as plants grow more efficient and states invest the resources necessary to train the technical workforce of the future. As these economics come into alignment, the sheer volume of consumption in the United States makes it an easy choice for manufacturers seeking proximity to the consumer.
Thinking ahead to future site selection projects of this scope, our team shared some well-honed best practices. Set the project foundation by analyzing candidate sites against the company’s current plant network; leverage visualization of static information to transcend language and geographic barriers; and maintain a sense of humor. Flights will be delayed, hotels may lose power and cultural differences have a learning curve, but at the end of the day, this once-in-a-lifetime site tour resulted in enduring friendships.
For our final installment, we’re coming full circle. We’re distilling our site selection story down to a case study and bringing to life an interactive look at our unique process. See you next time.