Toyota said “Hello Texas” on Monday with a Lone Star-sized bash.
The automaker opted for a block party style get-together in West Plano, hosting tents of free food, music and family friendly entertainment instead of a formal groundbreaking at the site of its future North American headquarters.
“It’s about building a community,” said Governor Rick Perry, addressing the crowd during opening remarks. "I wanted to come today to say thank you – thank you to the men and women of Toyota…for believing we would live up to what we said we would do.”
Toyota will centralize its operations in Plano by 2017, building an ecofriendly and state of the art headquarters on land off of Legacy Drive, near State Highway 121.
According to Plano’s mayor, while the city and state are providing millions in incentives to facilitate the relocation, Monday’s celebration was less about construction and more about people.
“It’s really not about a building, it’s about the families Toyota is bringing and the people that are going to be here and be part of our community,” said Harry LaRosiliere. “This is a way of introducing them to us and us to them.”
Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, told NBC 5 that while every employee has been told there will be a job for them in Texas, the company is currently designing how the centralized organization will operate.
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While about 4,000 employees will eventually be based out of the Plano headquarters, Toyota does not expect all of its current associates to relocate from New York, Kentucky and California.
“If 100% of them came, it would be 4,000; realistically, it’s going to be less than that,” Lentz said.
Toyota employees have been visiting Plano regularly to get a feel for the area.
Lentz says his team feels that quality of life and cost of living will be driving factors.
“When you weighed all those factors together, they was no doubt that Texas is the best place to be in,” he said. “Quality of life in Texas is, by far, the best in the country.”
As part of the “Hello Texas” event Monday, Toyota donated six Tundra trucks to the city of Plano.
The automaker also made a $1 million contribution to Plano Independent School District’s Academy High School.