With cowboy boots and the help of a Tundra pickup truck equipped with a plow, Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz broke ground on the company’s new North American Headquarters in northwestern Plano on Tuesday morning.
The 1 million-square-foot campus will be located on a 100-acre plot of land off of Headquarters Drive and is expected to house nearly 4,000 employees as the company consolidates multiple corporate divisions of its operation. It’s a move Lentz said will help to better serve Toyota’s customers and the surrounding communities.
“This is a day for new beginnings in Texas, and in that spirit we’re excited to break new ground,” Lentz said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “We’re confident that this campus will reflect the values of our company and those of our new neighbors. ... We’ll continue to build a foundation for our relationship between Toyota, the city of Plano and all of the North Texas communities our team members and associates will very soon call home.”
The $350 million campus is being developed by KDC with the architectural firm Corgan, two Dallas-based companies. JLL will be the project manager of the development. According to Lentz, the campus will incorporate native vegetation that requires minimal watering on all its landscaping, and will use reclaimed water for irrigation. As an example, and a symbolic move, the company plans to plant six holly trees, which were adorned with the hopes and wishes of Plano ISD students at the ceremony.
Last year, Toyota’s move was made official with the approval of an incentive package that included $40 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund and $6.75 million from the city of Plano, which also included a 10-year, 50 percent tax abatement beginning in 2017. Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere also cited the quality of local school districts as a factor in the company’s move.
“[Toyota’s] founder dreamed big,” LaRosiliere said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “He had a vision, a vision that most couldn’t imagine ... and the tradition and the vision of Toyota lives on; the sense of purpose, the sense of innovation, the sense of creating a home-like atmosphere and a sense of family, it lives strong, and it lives today. And it’s for that reason that we are all, from the city and our community, so honored to be part of this groundbreaking today.”
A 2014 study revealed that the headquarters relocation to Plano could have up to a $7.2 billion impact on the area’s economy, including the impact that the relocation of employees will have. LaRosiliere said that the local area has already seen an increase in economic activity in anticipation of the move. At least 3,650 positions at the headquarters are expected by 2018. Lentz, who moved to North Texas last September, said the company will start making offers to more employees at its current California headquarters to move to the area in mid-summer, so it is undetermined how many, if any, of those positions will be filled by local residents. However, according to Lentz, while Toyota’s San Antonio manufacturing plant directly employs about 3,000 people, an additional 15,000 residents are supported by the plant’s operations.
In addition to employment prospects and economic impacts, Lentz said Toyota is also known for contributions to local programs and organizations that benefit education in the surrounding communities where the company operates. In October, Toyota donated $1 million to Plano ISD and six trucks for city use.
At a Tuesday Plano Chamber of Commerce meeting, Lentz said he is hopeful about the future of Toyota and the auto industry in the coming years, citing growing consumer confidence, a lowered unemployment rate and low auto loan rate, among other things. Last year, Toyota saw a 6-percent increase in its sales, producing about 2.73 million vehicles, of which nearly 70 percent were manufactured through the company’s North American facilities.
“We believe in building close to where our customers are, it’s good for local economies, it’s good for communities and it’s great for our dealer partners,” Lentz said at the Chamber meeting. “Strong sales momentum and a recovering economy have positioned the auto industry, as well as Toyota, for six years of consecutive growth. At the same time, we strengthen our commitment to Plano, as our company, our team members and our associates ... grow in our new home. We’re poised to achieve Toyota’s vision of enriching society through building vehicles.”
The Plano headquarters is expected to be completed by late 2016 or early 2017.
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