For a hot second last winter, a 1,900-acre tract of undeveloped land outside Greensboro, N.C., was close to becoming a $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda joint venture assembly plant. The automakers instead opted for a site in Huntsville, Ala. But that's not the end of the story.
The North Carolina property, officially known as the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, continues to be refined by state and county officials. Immediately after losing the Toyota-Mazda project, the county added 140 acres to the parcel.
What's more, industry history shows that good things can happen at plant sites that have been passed over. General Motors considered and rejected Georgetown, Ky., for its Saturn project. The site became Toyota's biggest U.S. plant. Michelin passed on a tire factory site in Canton, Miss., that became a Nissan vehicle assembly plant. Toyota rejected a tract in Chattanooga that was snatched up for a Volkswagen plant. VW chose the Chattanooga location after rejecting a site in Huntsville — the same one that won the bid this year for the Toyota-Mazda project.