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The $1.6 Billion Incentive Package That Failed To Land Toyota

Mazda Toyota

North Carolina has long been fishing for a major manufacturing center. But, last month, the state again reeled in the equivalent of an old boot when Toyota and Mazda picked Alabama for their new joint car plant.

Newly-released documents show what North Carolina used as bait - nearly $1.6 billion and some consultant mandated "love."

The effort to land a new manufacturing plant near Greensboro was dubbed "Project New World." And, if successful, would have brought some 4,000 new jobs to Randolph County. The $1.6 billion would have been cobbled together through a series of tax breaks, state money earmarked to lure companies and some county and city money as well.

The state funded incentives would include:

$2 million for employee screening.

$16.4 million for job training which would take place at a $25 million training center.

The plant itself would have sat on $48 million worth of land, given to the carmaker for free.

Throw in $362 million worth of rail, road, water, sewer, natural gas and electrical improvements, and we're just getting started.

Toyota would have received more than $656 million in corporate tax breaks, as well as $54 million in sales tax exemptions for the materials to build the facility.

And $100,000 to run what has been dubbed the "Japanese Saturday school," a place where the children of Japanese managers would be taught in their native tongue.   

As for the love, the Chicago-based group advising North Carolina officials said the Toyota delegation had been less than impressed with the response from other governors. So Governor Roy Cooper and other officials were told to show the Toyota representative 'the love' by stressing how important the project was for the state. "This needs to come across loud and clear in language, tone, verbal and non-verbal communications.”

We don’t know how effectively the love was shown, but Toyota picked Alabama in the end.

And for some comparison, that nearly $1.6 billion incentives package would be enough to either fund the current budget for North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality for a little more than 22 years, repave more than 14,000 miles of highway, or buy 51,613 brand new, top of the line Toyota Priuses.

Tom Bullock decided to trade the khaki clad masses and traffic of Washington DC for Charlotte in 2014. Before joining WFAE, Tom spent 15 years working for NPR. Over that time he served as everything from an intern to senior producer of NPR’s Election Unit. Tom also spent five years as the senior producer of NPR’s Foreign Desk where he produced and reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon among others. Tom is looking forward to finally convincing his young daughter, Charlotte, that her new hometown was not, in fact, named after her.