Friday morning marked the groundbreaking for the new Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A plant. Toyota and Mazda have a joint agreement to build the $1.6 billion plant, which will produce Toyota Corollas and a new crossover vehicle from Mazda.
Several influential people spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, including Governor Kay Ivey, U.S. Senator Doug Jones, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and officials from Mazda and Toyota.
"The reality of giving up a place that's been in our family 80 years that we have made our living off of, it's hard to see it go," said Russ McDonald, who previously owned land where the plant will be.
McDonald said he was one of about 12 land owners who sold their property to make way for the new plant. He said he knew the land was in a prime spot for development, and he sold and donated about 1,000 acres total on the site.
"If it can grow cotton, it can grow houses, you know? It is easy to develop, and we know it was inevitable with the growth in Huntsville," McDonald said.
He said his family has been preparing for this day for about 10 years when Huntsville was a finalist for the Volkswagen plant.
"It's tough to come out here and see the place, the fields I've walked for 60 years," McDonald said.
The plant is expected to open in 2021 and have about 4,000 thousand workers.
"There must be no better place to produce vehicles than Alabama, and I look forward to our future vehicles being made in the state of Huntsville and Alabama," said Mazda Toyota Manufacturing president, Masashi Aihara.