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Toyota expands megasite plans again

LIBERTY — On Oct. 31, Toyota announced a new investment of nearly $8 billion that will add approximately 3,000 jobs at Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina (TBMNC) at the Greensboro Randolph Megasite west of Liberty. 


That addition brings total investment to approximately $13.9 billion and job creation to more than 5,000 — further supporting Toyota’s multi-pathway approach to global vehicle electrification.


This investment adds capacity to support battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). An additional eight BEV/PHEV battery production lines will be added to the two previously announced, for a total of 10 battery lines. Production will be increased in a phased approach, with line launches planned through 2030 to reach a total production of more than 30 GWh annually.


“Today’s announcement reinforces Toyota’s commitment to electrification and carbon reduction, bringing jobs and future economic growth to the region,” said Sean Suggs, president of Toyota North Carolina. “We are excited to see the continued energy and support of this innovative manufacturing facility.”


In 2021, Toyota, in partnership with Toyota Tsusho, announced the new Liberty location with an initial investment of $1.29 billion for battery production and the creation of 1,750 new jobs. With last week’s announcement, Toyota North Carolina solidifies its position as the company’s epicenter of lithium-ion battery production in North America. Overall, the campus will boast 7 million square feet, equating to 121 football fields of battery production.


“Through the last few years of building relationships, including my most recent trip to Tokyo and meeting with President Sato, our partnership with Toyota has become stronger than ever, culminating in this historic announcement,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. 


“North Carolina’s transition to a clean energy economy is bringing better paying jobs that will support our families and communities for decades to come.”


A pioneer in electrified vehicles, Toyota has put more than 24.6 million hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell and battery electric vehicles on the road globally. By 2025, the company plans to have an electrified option available for every Toyota and Lexus model globally.


The company is steadfast in its promise of being best-in-town by supporting local nonprofits and education initiatives. This year, Toyota announced donations totaling $200,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Asheboro and Greensboro, Junior Achievement of the Triad, Shift_ed and Volunteer Center of the Triad. Last year, the company announced a $1 million investment in North Carolina students enrolled with Communities in Schools Randolph County and NC A&T State University.


“This is big news,” said Darrell Frye, chair of the Randolph County Board of Commissioners. “We knew there would be more to be added to the site and we knew about the (planned) announcement. But we didn’t know it would add up to $8 billion. It proves they picked the right place to put the project.”


Frye noted that the total of appraised property in Randolph County is $16.6 billion. “Toyota is going to be $14 billion in itself,” he said. What that means in the short run is nearly twice the amount of taxable property for the county’s coffers.


For years the county, according to Frye, has been looking at doing improvements such as new public schools and infrastructure such as water and sewer lines. The problem has always been finding funds for those projects. 


“This is reverse planning,” he said, explaining that the commissioners will now have the luxury of choosing how to spend the new revenues coming from Toyota property taxes. Of course, Frye said, the county in the meantime will be paying back to the battery maker the portion of property taxes that were used as incentives to get the company here to start with.


“They’ve done a lot in the community already,” he said, referring to Toyota donations of $200,000 to various organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs.


Frye called the Toyota announcement “good news but it comes with challenges. We’ll need more planning as we go along.”


With the addition of up to 5,000 new jobs by 2030, the county must plan for unprecedented growth, particularly in the northeast quadrant around Liberty and Staley. Frye said the commissioners approved on Oct. 26 a Northeast Randolph County Growth Management Plan during a special public meeting.


With expected growth fueled by new businesses tied to Toyota and workers who need housing, the amended Growth Management Plan (GMP) will be a guide for planners in the future. Frye said the GMP does not change zoning but will offer guidelines for new development. He said it increases the rural development area between NC 49 and US 64, both of which will carry utilities into the area. 


Plans are to run a water line east from Asheboro on US 64 to the Wolfspeed microchip plant just over the Randolph-County-Chatham County line. Water and sewer lines will go up NC 49 to the Liberty city limits. Officials, Frye said, are looking at enlarging Ramseur’s wastewater management system capacity.


“We’ve had conversations with Dr. (Stephen) Gainey (superintendent of the Randolph County School System),” Frye said. “Their next priority is an elementary school in the Liberty area.”


With Toyota expecting to have its battery operations fully implemented by 2030, Frye said that’s just a six-year window for planners.


“We’ll be looking at where to get the most benefit from the (Toyota) funds,” he said. “Some of it will go in reserves.”


Growth is coming to the northeast quadrant and beyond with the coming of Toyota and Wolfspeed. With that growth will be change.


“It will have an impact on the people in the area,” Frye said.


Look for a more detailed story in a coming issue of Randolph Hub about the amended Growth Management Plan.