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U.S. states vie for new Toyota-Mazda project
Last Updated: 2017-08-11 07:31 | Xinhua
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About a dozen U.S. states are in hot pursuit after Japanese auto makers Toyota and Mazda agreed to set up a joint plant in America that would generate up to 4,000 jobs.

The two companies announced last Friday in Tokyo to launch a joint venture plant in the U.S. with equal funding contributions, which would have an estimated annual production capacity of approximately 300,000 units after its operation in 2021.

At the new plant, Mazda plans to produce cross-over models and Toyota plans to produce its best-selling Corolla. Both are for the North American market.

The 1.6-billion-U.S. dollar project has prompted fierce competition among U.S. states, mainly in the Midwest and the South. Among them are Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Illinois, having lost its bid in wooing Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn to set up a plant on its territory, is wasting no time in providing information to the car companies about potential locations.

Local media said that northern Illinois cities along Interstate 88 are believed to be under consideration.

Meanwhile, Illinois officials admit that mismanagement, red tape and tax increases have hurt the state's business climate.

" We need fewer regulations, lower workers' compensation costs and lower property taxes in order to attract more jobs to our state," a state spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Mississippi is believed to be one of the front runners. It already makes Corollas in the Blue Springs Toyota plant which opened six years ago, with existing supply chain for Toyota cars as its advantage.

"We stand ready to grow our existing partnership and strengthen Mississippi's standing as a global leader in automotive manufacturing," Governor Phil Bryant said in a statement this week.

The State of Kentucky also has a Toyota plant, making the Avalon and Camry. There are also Toyota plants in Texas, Alabama.

Kentucky governor Matt Bevin expressed this week that his state would pursue the proposed factory and mentioned a 1,550-acre site in Glendale as a prime location.

Even the traditionally agricultural Iowa is among the 11 states trying to lure the Toyota- Mazda joint venture.

Tina Hoffman, communications director for the Iowa Economic Development Authority, told Radio Iowa on Thursday that it would be a huge boost for Iowa to land such a facility.

"This is a fabulous opportunity for our state and it's one that we are doing our best to really put our best food forward and show all the reasons why that facility could be really important to Iowa's economy and better yet, to really benefit the company if they were to locate here," said Hoffman.

U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized Toyota for setting up a new plant in Mexico to make cars for North American market. However, Toyota maintains that the new joint venture with Mazda in the U.S. had nothing to do with Trump's pressure.

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