It was sad news that the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite was not chosen for the Toyota-Mazda plant. It would have provided the manufacturing jobs that Greensboro needs.
Nobody would talk about it on the record, but off the record, up until this week, the feeling was that the Toyota-Mazda had chosen Greensboro and was waiting to make the announcement.
Tuesday night, Jan. 9, when asked, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said she didn’t want to talk about it.
Wednesday, after the announcement was official, Vaughan explained, “I didn’t want to concede if there was any chance we might get it.”
Vaughan said it was the supply chain that did the Greensboro-Randolph megasite in. Alabama already has three automobile manufacturing plants, so the supply chain for auto manufacturing is in place. And since North Carolina doesn’t have a car manufacturing plant, we don’t have the supply chain for one. So, in the end, North Carolina didn’t get an auto plant because we don’t have an auto plant. Who knew that automobile plants were like automobile dealerships and they all like to be in one place.
Vaughan said that making it to the finals on this selection process puts the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, not just on the national map, but on the world map for anyone who is looking for an advanced manufacturing location.
She added that after the attempt at the Boeing plant, “we took a look at the airport and measured its strengths and weaknesses.” She said a lot of changes have been made to the airport to make it a more attractive site and that she imagined the same type of analysis would take place at the megasite. She said, “You know, the megasite is not very old.”
Vaughan noted that the Randolph County Board of Commissioners had voted to buy the missing piece of the puzzle for the site on Monday night. It was a 300-acre piece that had not been acquired and, with its purchase, the border of the site is rounded out. She said, “That makes our megasite the largest in the state.” Vaughan said that it showed a lot of courage to go ahead and buy the property, but that the Randolph County commissioners had been committed to the site for five years and spent a lot of money acquiring land, as had the Bryan Foundation.
The state legislature and Vaughan have not always seen eye to eye, but she said, “I’d like to give a big thank you to the North Carolina legislature. They stepped up in a huge way. I was told they were prepared to vote on an incentive package tomorrow.”
Vaughan said, “I can’t understand people in our own community who seem to bet against us every time.”
Although it is called the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, it is entirely in Randolph County, and Greensboro’s main contribution is to run a sewer line to the site. According to Vaughan, the city is continuing to acquire the right of way for that line and has a $7 million grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation to start construction when it is needed.
So there is a silver lining to the black cloud, which is that the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite was a finalist. The selection did come down to Greensboro or Alabama, and that is a huge step in the right direction. The site selection experts know what we have and have an idea how much the state is willing to pay to attract a large manufacturing operation to the state.
It certainly should put the Greensboro-Randolph site right up front with the other megasites in the state and region.
With the economy continuing to grow and the new tax reform legislation that is encouraging manufacturers who had fled overseas to come back home, it may not be long before Greensboro-Randolph has another shot at an advanced manufacturing plant that has the potential to change the region replacing many of the jobs that have been lost.
We didn’t get Toyota-Mazda, but to be honest I didn’t much want to have to drive a Toyota anyway.