Twenty five years ago, ground was broken on a 1,300-acre tract of farmland in Scott County that now is home to Toyota’s largest manufacturing facility outside of Japan – employing nearly 7,000 team members.
In recognition of the milestone, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) decided to host a celebration Saturday at Keeneland Race Course that featured Fujio Cho, chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. and past president of the TMMK operation, former Gov. Martha Layne Collins, and state and community leadership. In addition, team members decided to mark the anniversary at a private function at Rupp Arena.
In 1986, TMMK broke ground on its Georgetown plant site. In all, the company has invested $5.4 billion in the operation, which has seen several expansions, including two new plants. Today, TMMK produces Camry, Avalon and Venza vehicles, plus 4 cylinder and V6 engines, as well as several other components.
“It’s hard to believe that it has been 25 years since we began our journey here,” said Cho, president of the plant from 1988 to 1994. “I remember when we built the first Camry. Despite the uncertain future, we were excited to make Kentucky our first home for a Toyota vehicle plant in the U.S.”
It didn’t take long for the parent company to realize it made the right choice. To that end, the power-train plant was announced in November 1987; that was six months before the first Camry rolled off the production line. In addition, a second assembly line began producing vehicles in 1994.
Since 1988, the facility has built 8.7 million vehicles. In addition to the nearly 7,000 team members in Georgetown, Toyota employs approximately 1,500 workers at its North American manufacturing headquarters in Erlanger, Ky. – making the company the third largest private employer in the state. Also, 100 automotive suppliers in Kentucky employ over 9,600 workers who are dedicated to producing parts for Toyota vehicles.
“After 25 years together, we all know that Toyota is truly a Kentucky company,” said Gov. Steve Beshear.
Since the facility started producing vehicles, TMMK has donated $40 million toward philanthropic causes. In addition, TMMK team members provide 33,000 hours in volunteer time annually to numerous non-profit organizations.