Toyota-Mazda auto plant deal is official as leaders sign the agreement

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Toyota-Mazda deal is official. Last week, state officials and company leaders announced that Toyota and Mazda will establish a new $1.6B plant in Huntsville as part of a new joint-venture.

Production is slated to begin in 2021 and reach 300,000 vehicles produced annually. The new facility is expected to create up to 4,000 jobs.

Mayor Tommy Battle, Limestone County Commission Chair Mark Yarbrough, and Hundley Batts - Chair of the Industrial Development Board of the City of Huntsville signed the development agreement for Toyota-Mazda on Wednesday.

"This project is bigger than the city of Huntsville. It is a project for all of North Alabama and in fact, the state of Alabama," said Battle. "Today, we have a contract. We have certain obligations to meet for the company, and the company has certain obligations to meet for us."

The signing ceremony took place in the 7th floor Council Conference Room of City Hall. Leaders signed eight different copies of the lengthy document. Representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and members of the economic development team who worked long hours to bring Project New World to fruition attended the ceremony.

Now the development agreement is approved, leaders will focus on the hard work that comes next on the ground. The city has agreed to give Toyota-Mazda the land and extend roads, connect rail, and do other work at the site.

"You'll start seeing ground broken early second quarter of this year," said Shane Davis, Urban and Economic Development Director for the city of Huntsville.

"We stand ready to do this. We stand ready with the best workforce in America," said Mark Yarbrough, Limestone County Commission Chairman.

In the meantime, leaders say this has opened up new doors and new interest in the Tennessee Valley.

"There's a sense of euphoria that has been really permeating through Limestone County, Athens, and the area," said Yarbrough, "because of the opportunities. My office, and I'm sure everybody's, has been been inundated with phone calls from across the nation. It just goes to show you the magnitude of what we've got before us."

Mayor Battle said the calls range from businesses seeking to locate to Huntsville, to job-seekers.

"Everybody wants to be a part of the success, and that's a great thing," he said. "Lots of companies wanting to be part of this, but lots of people also asking, 'When can I apply for a job?'"

Job-seekers will need to wait until closer to 2020 for hiring to begin. Here is where that information will be available then.

Meanwhile, the city council still needs to approve a proposed TIF district that includes the Toyota-Mazda site. The TIF district is a funding mechanism to pay for the infrastructure going in there to support the area and the development.

Wednesday, the Limestone County Commission approved an incentive package for Toyota that includes a 20-year property tax abatement to the tune of $80 million.