Construction on the new Toyota Boshoku America plant in Athens could begin as early as April 24, an official said Thursday.
Tom Hill, president of the Limestone County Economic Development Association, said Toyota Boshoku officials were eager to get started on the $50-million project announced Wednesday. The plant, which will manufacture seat systems for the $1.6-billion Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. site in southern Limestone County, will employ up to 400 people when it reaches full capacity.
Though the announcement has been made, there are still a few agreements to be finalized. At the April 22 Athens City Council meeting, the council will vote on the project agreement and a 10-year tax abatement for the project. The abatement, traditionally requested by the LCEDA, abates property tax and sales tax on construction-related items for 10 years. Taxes related to education, however, are not abated.
Hill said real estate agreements related to where the factory will be built also need to be finalized, as does the final project agreement.
“The real estate will close on April 23, so (Toyota Boshoku) can start moving dirt on April 24, if they choose,” he said.
Hill explained the relatively rapid pace of the project is partially owed to the fact it was originally set to be announced last month. However, construction bids had not come back on the project, and Hill said Toyota Boshoku officials didn't want to approve a project without reviewing the bids first.
The Toyota Boshoku announcement represents the first Tier 1 supplier related to the future MTMUSA project, though Hill predicts others could be announced soon. Suppliers to be located on or near the MTMUSA campus will be announced by Huntsville officials, because the project is in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County.
“I think there will be more Tier 1's coming along soon,” Hill said. “I would say they would at least be inquiring pretty soon.”
The project agreement to be considered by the council explains Toyota Boshoku plans to construct its plant on a 42-acre site at Phase II of the Breeding Industrial Park. The agreement says the project will create 414 new jobs, and Toyota Boshoku will invest $55.9 million in the project.
The agreement also states the city will sell the property to Toyota Boshoku for a price of $718,142. The city also plans to relocate Jimmy Gill Park, which occupies property where the plant will be built. To that end, Toyota Boshoku will contribute $300,000 toward the relocation effort. The company will also pay a sewer impact fee of $81,858 to the city at the time of closing.
The project agreement also includes city-funded incentives for Toyota Boshoku in the amount of $50,000. The company will receive $25,000 when it reaches a yearly average of 200 full-time employees, and an additional $25,000 when it reaches a yearly average of 352 full-time employees. The agreement also states the company would be required to “maintain those numbers for various periods of time.”
Finally, the agreement states the city will lease temporary office space at Athens Utilities to Toyota Boshoku “at a nominal cost.”