Toyota Hopes To Produce New Vehicle Model In Ky.

Apr 17, 2013

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky is in the running to produce an unspecified new vehicle model and add 570 permanent full-time workers at its Georgetown plant, according to details the carmaker provided to state officials to qualify for tax incentives.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved $146.5 million in state tax incentives on Wednesday to help with the cost of the proposed $531 million expansion.

"Securing this significant investment at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky would be a huge economic development victory," said Mandy Lambert, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet. "It would not only bring new jobs and capital investment to the state, but would greatly enhance Kentucky's already strong reputation as a leader in the auto industry."

The Georgetown plant, which already has 6,100 full-time workers, is competing with other Toyota factories for the opportunity to build the new model.

Toyota produces the Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon and Venza as well as engines and other vehicle components at the Georgetown plant. The tax incentives would kick in when employment at the plant reaches 6,739.

Rick Hesterberg, spokesman for Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing in Georgetown, declined to provide details about the proposed expansion.

"We continue to look for opportunities to localize production and build where we sell," he said in a statement. "However, we have nothing to announce at this time."

Government paperwork detailing the incentives says Toyota is considering an expansion that would produce "an additional 50,000 units" per year. The project would involve expanding and modifying existing buildings and would require replacement and refurbishment of equipment. The paperwork says the expansion would generate a total of 750 jobs, including contractor workers, and that average compensation for the new jobs would be $26 an hour.

Kentucky is home to nearly 450 motor vehicle-related facilities, employing nearly 80,000 people.

Auto production ramped up in the state last year, surpassing 1 million vehicles for the first time since 2007, before the national economic downturn. Kentucky ranked third nationally last year in car production at 477,000 vehicles and fourth in light truck production at more than 548,000.

Besides the Georgetown Toyota plant, Kentucky has two Ford plants in Louisville and a GM plant in Bowling Green where the Corvette is made.