Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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April 28, 2014

Toyoto moving headquarters to Dallas area

Many state jobs affected by move

FRANKFORT — Toyota will close its Engineering and Manufacturing Headquarters in Erlanger, Ky., affecting about 1,600 Kentucky jobs, 1,300 of which will move to Plano, Tex., near Dallas.

The move won’t affect about 7,000 jobs at the company’s Georgetown, Ky., manufacturing facility where Toyota Camrys, Avalons, and Venzas are produced and where production of the Lexus ES 350 is set to begin next year.

The company will move 300 engineering positions from its Erlanger operations to the Georgetown facility. All other affected employees will be offered jobs at the still to be constructed Texas facility or at the company’s technical center near Ann Arbor, Mich.

Toyota is also closing its California sales and marketing division and moving about 2,000 California jobs to the new Texas facility.

The company made the announcement Monday afternoon after meeting with its Erlanger employees. The move is part of a nationwide consolidation of operations presently based in Kentucky and California, according to Mike Goss, Toyota’s Vice President of External Affairs.

The move took Gov. Steve Beshear and northern Kentucky officials by surprise.

“Obviously we are extremely disappointed by Toyota’s decision,” Beshear said. “We would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss options with Toyota, but we will now turn our attention to preparing for this transition.”

Goss said he met with Beshear in his Frankfort office Monday morning to inform him of the move and informed Erlanger city officials shortly before the public announcement was released.

Erlanger officials said they had no word of the impending announcement until shortly before the company made it public. Nor did the company offer the state an opportunity to attract the new headquarters.

Goss said the Toyota “did not ask Gov. Beshear to make a proposal (to keep the headquarters in Kentucky) because Toyota wanted a “neutral location” to avoid moving Kentucky operations and employees to California or California operations to Kentucky.

Most of the 1,300 positions will be moved to the Plano site once construction of that facility is completed, probably toward the end of 2016 or early 2017, Goss said. Those jobs are primarily accounting, financial, human resources and information jobs. About 250 procurement positions will be relocated to the company’s technical center in Michigan.

While all employees will be given the opportunity to relocate, Goss said he realizes not everyone will want to or be able to relocate.

The move will have a major economic impact on northern Kentucky, something Goss acknowledged.

“This is not easy,” Goss said. “But I am convinced it was the logical business decision for the company. But it can be challenging.”

Beshear said Kentucky will assist the affected families and said Toyota has also promised to offer help to affected employees.

He took some solace in the plans to add about 750 jobs at the Georgetown plant to work on the new Lexus assembly along with the 300 engineering positions which will move there from Erlanger.

“Toyota officials have assured us that a continued strong presence in Kentucky is central to Toyota’s ongoing success,” Beshear said. “Kentucky remains a powerful force in auto manufacturing, and we will do everything possible to maintain and strengthen Kentucky’s position as one of the top states for the auto industry.”

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

 

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Paul and Kristen Shively at their new shop, Phoenix Vapors, on 16th Street in downtown Ashland.

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