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McMaster confirms S.C. in running for Toyota-Mazda plant

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While Toyota and Mazda search for a U.S. site to build their joint $1.6 billion auto manufacturing plant, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster confirmed the Palmetto State is in the running.

“We know that, like a lot of other companies, they’re considering South Carolina, among other states,” McMaster said Thursday in Summerville, after attending Sportsman Boats’ expansion announcement.

Gov. Henry McMaster said South Carolina is in the running for the Toyota-Mazda plant. He took questions following an expansion announcement at Sportsman Boats in Summerville. (Photo/Liz Segrist)Ten other states — Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas — are also being considered, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal.

The Toyota-Mazda plant would produce 300,000 vehicles a year and create up to 4,000 jobs, the companies said. It would require two assembly lines and 1,000 acres, The Wall Street Journal reported. It is set to open by 2021.

McMaster did not elaborate on efforts the state might be planning to recruit the auto manufacturer, such as potential site preparations or incentive deals. The state Commerce Department previously said it is “unable to comment on projects we may or may not be actively working.”

“We’ll do our best with anyone who wants to invest money here, anyone who wants to take a risk and invest millions, and sometimes even billions of dollars in South Carolina,” he said. “We’ll do all we can to see that they are received well, that they understand what people in the state have to offer.”

If the plant comes to South Carolina, it will join three other major automakers with operations in the state: BMW Manufacturing Co. produces several models at its Greer plant, Mercedes-Benz Vans’ North Charleston campus is undergoing a large expansion, and Volvo Cars will build S60 sedans at its new campus in Berkeley County starting in 2018.

At the joint U.S. plant, Mazda expects to produce crossover models, and Toyota plans to produce its Corolla model. Both car companies will build vehicles for the North American market.

McMaster said that the state has a business-friendly environment but that he wants lower taxes and fewer regulations for businesses. He said the S.C. workforce is the main selling point when recruiting companies.

“That’s why all these big companies that could go anywhere in the world come to South Carolina — and more are on the way,” McMaster said.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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