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Greensboro Mayor discusses significance of Toyota's new battery plant in the area

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Mayor Nancy Vaughan, of Greensboro, North Carolina joins Yahoo Finance to discuss how her city will benefit from the Toyota batter plant project.

Video Transcript

- So the news broke this morning that Toyota is going to break ground on a brand new automobile battery plant. They're going to make these batteries in Greensboro or near Greensboro, North Carolina. The plant will begin delivering the batteries in 2025. They're going to expand through 2031 ultimately employing 1,750 people. Nothing to be mad at about that.

Let's bring in Mayor Nancy Vaughan from Greensboro, North Carolina. Congratulations on this economic boom for a lot of people. Real quick, part of the deal is $435 million in development incentives. Are those tax breaks for Toyota and are they worth it?

NANCY VAUGHAN: They are a variety of different things. Some are tax breaks, some are infrastructure improvements, and other is workforce development. I think it is certainly worth it. We're very excited for this announcement. It certainly enhances the city of Greensboro and our whole Carolina core.

EMILY MCCORMICK: Mayor Vaughan, this Emily McCormick here. One of the things that Adam was outlining about this plan is that Toyota does plan to employ some 1750 people, 1,750 people as part of this. What does this mean to the local Greensboro economy in terms of economic development and job creation?

NANCY VAUGHAN: Well, it will have a tremendous impact and the city of Greensboro partnered with Rockingham County. So it'll be-- it is a regional project, we'll have a great impact on Guilford County and Rockingham County. Will bring the average wage for this project anyway above $62,000 per person that is above our median income. That is very exciting. It also brings along some opportunity for workforce development. We really look forward to this partnership and this phase one is 1750 jobs but phase two could be an additional 3,000 jobs with more investment.

- And we should point out to the total investment. So Toyota is incurring a lot of this. Is 1.29 billion, we're not talking to almost 1.3 billion. How will this change your community? That's a lot of people and a lot of money.

NANCY VAUGHAN: It is a lot of people but we have a ready and willing workforce so I think it'll be great for our community. And I think it also puts Greensboro on the global stage. We have many world class employers here to have Toyota actually to point to Greensboro and Randolph County. That is just huge.

EMILY MCCORMICK: And one other thing I want to ask about is so many of these electric vehicle companies, whether the legacy automakers as well as some of these more new and incoming players have been looking to expand their domestic manufacturing facilities, what are you doing with Greensboro in terms of infrastructure and investment to make this region continue to be attractive to these kinds of private partnerships?

NANCY VAUGHAN: Well, you know, one of the reasons why I think that Toyota came here is because of our great infrastructure. We have a world class roadway system, we've got three airports in close proximity, significant water and sewer resources. So they knew that we were the type of community with Randolph County that we could support this type of an investment.

- When you talk about competing against other municipalities and states to land a factory like this and you did so successfully, what do you say to critics who will raise red flags about this is an anti-union move, what would you say to them?

NANCY VAUGHAN: You know, I think that we really need to look at the whole community and to see what it is that we can do to put people to work and this makes us more competitive. You know, a few years ago we were in the running for the Toyota Mazda automobile plant and we did not. We did not get that award and it really caused us to look back at what we could do to improve our community, to improve our site, and we were pleased that when they came looking for a partner with their battery manufacturer that they focused on the Greensboro Randolph mega site.

NANCY VAUGHAN: And how would you say the work that you're now doing with Toyota really fits into a broader Greensboro and North Carolina push towards green energy and clean energy with so many of these battery electric vehicle makers?

NANCY VAUGHAN: Well, we were one of the first municipalities in North Carolina to have electric buses. We actually had the largest fleet of electric buses in the Southeast where it's important that we build our local buildings or municipal buildings to lead standards. So this will actually go along with what we have been talking about in our own community about how to have more sustainable practices.

- Right. When people talk about Greensboro and this deal, what's the biggest thing you want them to consider about how it's going to change things?

NANCY VAUGHAN: You know, one thing that I would like people from outside of the community when they look at Greensboro and Randolph County, they realize the depth of resources that we have. That this region in North Carolina is ripe for development.

- Mayor Nancy Vaughan is the mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina. Congratulations on luring the plant there because I think most of us are going to be driving battery driven cars and perhaps, battery driven Toyota's and those batteries produced right there in Greensboro.