Future Toyota-Mazda plant expected to greatly impact the local economy

HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- The $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda plant coming to Huntsville will certainly bring a lot of change along with it. Huntsville beat out the competition to become the home of the future plant that will produce around 300,000 vehicles a year.

Limestone County Commission Chairman Mark Yarbrough said the site for the future plant is about perfect. It's almost level, it has railways, the Tennessee River and a  nuclear power plant.

"You're not gonna find a better site," Yarbrough said. "And once we had that and we convinced them, it becomes about the people. When it becomes about the people, we don't take a backseat to nobody in the world."

He said the people of Alabama sealed the deal, and it is those people who will benefit from it.

"Something of this massive scale is going to absolutely impact everyone in this area," said Yarbrough.

The plant will directly employ 4,000 people, but Yarbrough said the impact is greater than jobs.

"Starting three years from now, we will have $200 million more a year going into our local economy," said Yarbrough. "Where do you think people gonna spend that money at? You go to the grocery store, you get gas, you get your hair done, you buy clothes. That's all small business."

He said there are no downsides to this plant, but there is a challenge.

"The challenge is to have a structured growth," Yarbrough said. "Keep our infrastructure, improve infrastructure."

Yarbrough said there isn't a playbook to work from to prepare and adapt to a plant of this size. It will be a work in progress.

"You don't get these, these are once. These aren't multigenerational," Yarbrough said. "It ain't like 'well we're gonna do it like we did the last time.' Cause there is no last one. There may not ever be a next one."

The plant is scheduled to open in 2021. With it, Alabama could become the fourth biggest state in the U.S. for auto manufacturing.