Toyota Boshoku

The site of the Toyota Boshoku plant on West Sanderfer Road in Athens. The work is on schedule to wrap up in mid-2020. A study shows industry in north Alabama could struggle to find enough qualified workers in the future.

Work on the future Toyota Boshoku manufacturing facility on West Sanderfer Road in Athens is now in its fourth month and is on schedule to wrap up in mid-2020, a company spokesperson said this week.

Doug Shields, senior vice president for Toyota Boshoku America Inc., said steel framing should begin arriving at the site Wednesday, with installation set to last through October. Birmingham-based Gray Construction is the lead contractor on the project.

Until now, Shields said the bulk of the work has been site preparation. After obtaining the necessary permits from Athens and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, crews have been leveling the 42-acre site.

Drainage pipes have been laid and gravel has been put down in the areas designated for employee parking, roads and a loading dock. Shields said crews are also installing column foundations and seeding retention ponds and green spaces.

What the plant will do

When completed, Toyota Boshoku will manufacture seat systems for the future Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant now under construction in Huntsville-annexed Limestone County. This week, that company announced a production shift away from the Toyota Corolla and to a yet-to-be-announced SUV. In explaining its decision, MTM cited a higher “consumer appetite” for light trucks and SUVs.

Shields said Toyota Boshoku had not yet announced openings for the Athens facility, but anticipated hiring for salaried positions to begin later this year. He said the hiring of production positions would begin next spring. Openings will be posted to www.toyota-boshoku.com/us/recruit/.

The company will hire up to 414 workers at full capacity. When asked if expansion plans are possible, Shields said the company is instead focused on its current operations.

Community partner

In addition to providing jobs for Tennessee Valley residents, Shields said Toyota Boshoku would be an active community partner in Athens.

“Just as we contribute to society by developing leading-edge technologies and manufacturing high-quality products, we also contribute to society by supporting programs and organizations focused on developing future generations of leaders and sustaining the environments in which we conduct our business,” he said.

He explained the company would direct its support to organizations that promote youth, education, environmental conservation and community endeavors. He said Toyota Boshoku plants elsewhere provide contributions to schools, veterans groups and health and medical foundations.

The company operates U.S. manufacturing plants in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

About the project

The Toyota Boshoku plant was announced April 10 by Gov. Kay Ivey and other state and local officials. Dr. Shuhei Toyoda, chairman of Toyota Boshoku, was also present, along with company representatives.

The $55 million plant is being built on the site of the former Jimmy Gill Park. As part of a project agreement, Toyota Boshoku contributed $300,000 for relocation of the park.

The project was the recipient of local and state incentives, including a 10-year abatement of property tax and sales taxes on items related to construction.

The state also contributed incentives to the project, including a jobs credit valued at $6.19 million over 10 years and an investment credit valued at $8.38 million over 10 years. The plant will also benefit from service and support from Alabama Industrial Development Training, which recruits and trains employees for manufacturing positions. Those services are valued at $2.3 million.

The state projects Toyota Boshoku will have a 400 percent return on investment over 20 years, including $475.8 million in new payroll over 20 years (a combination of construction and permanent jobs). It also projects $74.4 million in new state revenue over 20 years.

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