The automobile sector continues to be America's largest manufacturing industry, ultimately responsible for one out of every 10 jobs in the U.S. according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. With so many jobs on the line, it's no surprise that economic developers (mainly in the Southeastern U.S.) have been rushing to make sure their communities are considered for the next big automotive manufacturing project. One way they've been doing this is by certifying large-scale "megasites" in their communities. A megasite is a large parcel of land at least 1,000 acres ready for heavy industrial development, according to McCallum Sweeney Consulting, a firm instrumental in several high-profile automotive expansions and relocations over the last decade. According to the firm for a megasite to certified and attractive for a large auto project, it must have three other attributes:
1. Be optioned by the economic development organization as a single parcel ready for sale
2. Be fully served, or ready to be served, by utilities
3. Be developable and free of all easements and right of way issues
Toyota, which has more than doubled the number of its plants in the U.S. at a cost of more than $5 billion, is the prime example of an automotive company that is attacted by certified megasites. It has plants in West Virginia, Indiana, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, California, Baja Mexico, and Ontario, Canada. Toyota looks for around a 1,500-acre range in terms of size for a new plant. Its sites must have access to two providers of rail service and easy highway access, as well as sufficient utilities such as water, sewer, natural gas, and high-powered electricity.
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