North Carolina's effort gives a glimpse of the pressure and complexity involved in competing for a car plant.
In readying a proposal for Toyota and Mazda, North Carolina officials quickly learned that, as Christensen puts it, "speed is king." Automakers want to see an expensive new plant producing vehicles — and revenue — as soon as possible.
"A company that has a project of the magnitude that requires a megasite is looking to get up and running," he said.
"We did about five years' worth of work in six months to be ready and to show the companies that they could be up and running in 18 months or less."
Moore said the 1,800-acre site south of Greensboro, which is one of four megasites that North Carolina is offering to employers, came together through the efforts of a team of government and private entities.
The checklist to show the Toyota-Mazda alliance that it could break ground quickly was exhaustive, she said. The team had accounted for the necessary land acquisition; utilities such as water, sewer, natural gas, power and fiber optics; highway access; rail access, environmental studies and permits.
"Any community that has a site worth its salt will have all of these," Moore said. "To a client, the best communities are the best-prepared."
Because of the site's proximity to Greensboro, utilities were nearby, Christensen said. Buying land was more difficult. The ideal situation would be to find one or two farmers ready to retire and sell off hundreds of acres, he said.
But that wasn't the case for the Greensboro site.
"All of the infrastructure was very close," he said. "The issue we had was that we didn't have one or two landowners. We had 100 tracts of land to acquire, and 70-some owners."
On another front, the economic development team enjoyed an advantage because a Norfolk Southern rail line adjoins the property site. Norfolk Southern is a so-called Class 1 railroad, one of seven large railways with track that can carry cargo throughout North America.
Christensen said it would have been "very expensive and very difficult and, more important to the client, very time consuming," to have to bring such a line to the site.
"A big part of a search is 'Where is there a Class 1 rail line, either adjacent or very close?' "