RALEIGH – Toyota plans to build a $1.3 billion plant in the Triad to manufacture batteries for hybrid vehicles, state officials said Monday.
A “major economic development announcement” is set for 2 p.m. at the so-called “megasite” in Randolph County.
At a meeting of the Randolph County Board of Commissioners on Monday morning, officials described Project Darwin as a “transformational project” that would bring more than 3,000 jobs with an average salary of at least $62,234 (or about $28,000 more than the current median annual wage in Randolph County).
Commissioners heard that the employer was already considering an expansion which would bring the total project to $3 billion, with 3,875 jobs.
Golden LEAF, a Rocky Mount-based economic development foundation, is pledging an additional $25 million to build a training facility on the site in partnership with Randolph Community College.
Toyota’s involvement in the project was confirmed during a Monday morning meeting of the state Department of Commerce’s Economic Investment Committee, where state incentives were approved.
The Greensboro-Randolph Megasite Foundation is the developer of the 1,800-acre site. It recently sought approval for a grading permit, The Greensboro News & Record reported.
Bloomberg News reported last month that Toyota was considering North Carolina for the plant.
The state has long sought to land a big plant in the auto industry, and the megasite has been considered before by Toyota, according to media reports.
North Carolina State University economist Mike Walden said the impact of the project will be immense.
“By big boost, I mean in the billions of dollars,” Walden said. “Auto plants are sought after for several reasons: They bring large numbers of jobs and payroll; they provide good-paying employment for workers who don’t have four-year college degrees (something that is critically important in the age of globalization); they can have a significant in-state supply chain effect – thereby increasing the total job impact by at least 50% above those in the factory – and they do add to a state’s business reputation, meaning more firms will consider North Carolina for a location.”
“The landing of a firm would confirm the wisdom of North Carolina’s more pro-active strategy in competing for these large companies, by having sites ready and political agreement over an incentives package achieved,” he added.
Developers of the site area sought a similar permit in 2018 when Toyota was considering the land for an auto plant, the News & Record noted.
The recently approved North Carolina state budget called for $320 million in economic development incentives for what would be called a “transformative” project.
John Quinterno, of the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, told WRAL TechWire that another economic development project could be coming to the Triangle.
“I did see that the technical corrections bill at the legislature … contained $107 million in money for infrastructure investments for the Piedmont Triad Airport contingent on the awarding of a high-yield JDIG [Job Development Investment Grant] award for an airplane manufacturer in Guilford County,” Quinterno said. “Not sure if that is the same thing [as the megasite] or something different. I know HondaJet already is in Greensboro, so perhaps they are planning an expansion.”