North Carolina’s governor visited Japan in last-ditch bid for Mazda-Toyota plant

Less than a month before the Japanese auto giants opted to build their plant in Huntsville, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and several officials spent more than $50,000 on a last-minute, four-day trip to Japan to swing the $1.6 billion Mazda-Toyota project in their direction.

That’s according to WRAL-TV in North Carolina. In fact, Cooper had to make a side trip to Washington to retrieve his passport just to make the trip.

But in early January, Alabama was picked as the plant’s site.

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA, Inc., or (MTMUS), says the full-scale construction of its $1.6 billion Huntsville plant will begin in 2019. When fully operational in 2021, the plant is expected to employ 4,000 people and produce about 300,000 vehicles a year.

The trip included the governor, the state’s commerce and transportation secretaries, a senior adviser and a two-man security detail to Tokyo Dec. 14 to 18, 2017.

Neither the press nor the public was notified of the governor’s absence during the trip, with his schedule saying he was in meetings. A few legislators were also alerted to the trip.

North Carolina reportedly offered $1.6 billion of incentives to attract the auto plant. Alabama offered more than $800 million in incentives.

Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot speaks to the Huntsville chapter of the National Space Club on March 20, 2018. (NASA/Emmett Given)
The Apartments at the Venue is a 618-unit apartment community located in Valley in Chambers County.

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