With Toyota set to relocate its North American headquarters to the Dallas, TX suburb of Plano following a top-secret, 100-city search, the cities that missed out can now begin asking themselves what happened during a process they apparently knew little about.

That's a particularly brutal task for Charlotte, which, according to North Carolina's Secretary of Commerce, Sharon Decker, finished second to Plano. While Toyota has been fairly open about what it was looking for in a new headquarters city – direct flights to Japan, proximity to its US production facilities, a lower cost of living, high-quality educational facilities and finding a neutral site suitable to the California, Kentucky and New York-based employees that would be relocated – it's been less open about how the finalist cities, which also included Atlanta and Denver, stacked up against each other.

The Charlotte Observer has a few ideas. Part of the problem is the distinct lack of direct flights between Charlotte and Asia. US Airways, which operates a hub at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, doesn't fly to Asia.

Toyota, for its part, seems to be placing most of the blame on location.

"With manufacturing locations in many US states, Canada and Mexico, we chose a location that better supports our diverse geographic footprint, in a time zone that allows us to communicate better with most of our operations, and has direct flights to all our North American operations and Japan," Mike Michels, Toyota's VP of product communications, told The Observer via email.


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  • 42 Comments
      Egon
      • 7 Months Ago
      Cincinnati's airport (CVG) is literally 5 minutes from Toyota's NA headquarters. Back in the 80s and 90s, the airport was a Delta hub with numerous international nonstops daily. Fast forward 10 years and Delta has mostly left town with hubs in Atlanta and Detroit eating CVG's lunch. We're still shelling out stupidly high hub fares, but I digress. CVG is now left holding a trophy for "Best Regional Airport in North America for 2013". Let that sink in for a minute. Now larger businesses, including Toyota, are starting to relocate. Anybody that didn't see this coming took their eye off the ball a long time ago.
      creamwobbly
      • 7 Months Ago
      "a neutral site suitable to the California, Kentucky and New York-based employees that would be relocated" So they're looking to lose a lot of California and New York-based employees to attrition? Because I'm damned sure I wouldn't move to a backward country like Texass.
        Chris
        • 7 Months Ago
        @creamwobbly
        With Texas being like the second most populous state in the country, and with two of the nation's top ten largest cities, I don't think they'll have any problems finding talented and skilled individuals to replace those who don't want to make the move. I suspect the ones who will choose not to move will be older employees with kids in high school , plenty of money in the bank, and a solid plan B. Those younger employees with a long term career in mind will most likely make the move. Texas is a very large and diverse state, so I'm sure they'll be fine. There's even plenty of hipsters and card carrying liberal Democrats like you there, especially in Austin.
          Jamie Houk
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Chris
          Plano is no where near Austin.
          Chris
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Chris
          I never said it's near Austin. I was simply discussing the state as a whole in reply to our buddy creamwobbly. With that said, Plano may not be near Austin, but it is at the center of a very large metropolitan area with a lot of people from different places.
        Larry Litmanen
        • 7 Months Ago
        @creamwobbly
        You do realize that Texas has more people than NY and NY is losing people every single year.
          tump
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          They should look in the couch cushions. Lose a lot of people in there.
          Jamie Houk
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          16 million plus people in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex which includes Plano. That is up from just over 8 million in 1982.
          Mike
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          Jamie Houk: The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has 6.8 million people. 16 million people would make it the second largest metro area in the country, just shy of the New York metro area.
        BryanGx
        • 7 Months Ago
        @creamwobbly
        Obviously you've never actually been to Plano. I don't know where you live, but Plano is almost certainly better. Disclaimer: I don't live there either.
          bassplayrr
          • 7 Months Ago
          @BryanGx
          As someone who relocated to Plano from the Bay Area about two years ago, I can guarantee your stereotypes, at least in this area, are wrong. My house is literally across the street/tollway from where the new Toyota HQ is to be built and this is a very hip, affluent, California-esque area. About a block away ares the "Shops at Legacy" which are essentially a budding Santana Row for those familiar with the South Bay. The HP Enterprise campus is up the street, there are hipster approved pubs and micro brew joints everywhere, and best of all, the car culture here is second to none with the Dallas Cars and Coffee hosted just a freeway exit south of the new Toyota facilities and more McLarens, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis in the streets than you can shake a stick at.
          bassplayrr
          • 7 Months Ago
          @BryanGx
          Sorry Bryan. That was meant for Cream.
        Zoom
        • 7 Months Ago
        @creamwobbly
        When led by rick "oops" perry you are backwardsass
        brandon
        • 7 Months Ago
        @creamwobbly
        No big loss. The people that don't want to leave I'm sure are the ones that are on thin ice or about to retire anyway. Also, I didn't know that "Texass" was a "country". Last I saw they were a state within the country of the United States of America. I guess you must be one of those that can't even find Iraq on a map.
        Ian J
        • 7 Months Ago
        @creamwobbly
        Many companies do not agree with you. Try looking up what Samsung have in Texas! Apple may outsource their manufacturing to China, but Samsung makes many of the iphone chipsets in Texas. They have spent more than $2 Billion there.
      Matt
      • 7 Months Ago
      North Carolina has the most backwards schools in the U.S., and I'm sure that played into the decision. Fund your damn schools, and maybe businesses would want to locate there.
        Chris
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Matt
        North Carolina doesn't have any problems attracting new businesses or residents. Charlotte's booming, and the Raleigh area has more than doubled in population since 1995. The state is also home to some pretty prestigious private and public universities. Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest are a few that come to mind.
          Chris
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Chris
          Matt, how does that effect the majority of the student body. Most are not there on athletic scholarships, but because of academic achievement. I'm not making excuses for UNC, but if you think they're the only school to have done something like that, think again. Athletes represent a very small percentage of the student body. Keep that in mind.
          Matt
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Chris
          UNC-CH can no longer be considered "prestigious" until they own up to the fact that they basically gave away grades to illiterate basketball and football players. They keep trying to sweep that under the rug.
        Larry Litmanen
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Matt
        Schools are overfunded in NYC, probably the worst schools in the country. Teachers unions in here a re backing a politico who wants to remove all testing of students.
        brandon
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Matt
        Also, I say this as someone that isn't even all that fond of NC, but it's many times better than California.
      rcavaretti
      • 7 Months Ago
      The education is better? Isn't Texas the location of a rather large school board that forced science book publishers to include a section on Creationism in the district approved text book?
        Eric
        • 7 Months Ago
        @rcavaretti
        *Plano schools are very highly rated...
        Chris
        • 7 Months Ago
        @rcavaretti
        I don't consider myself a religious person, or a believer in Creationism, however, I don't see why including a section on it is such a horrible idea. After all, isn't a big part of education in a free and open society about exposing people to different views and philosophies? Why is that such a scary concept to some of you?
          lasertekk
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Chris
          Fine. Take a philosophy or religion class then. Leave the science in the science class.
      jesscott
      • 7 Months Ago
      Go Toyota.....I love the way they chose where to relocate. Simple issues, simple decisions. Everybody else can take their politics and political correctness and shove it. This was all about business, nothing else.
      mapoftazifosho
      • 7 Months Ago
      Denver would have been a much better selection.
        Rampant
        • 7 Months Ago
        @mapoftazifosho
        If you read the article closely, they say they wanted a city with a low cost of living, not a city with a higher cost of living than Orlando, FL or Anaheim CA.
      Ian J
      • 7 Months Ago
      Charlotte area is expanding and booming. The build out of quality housing and new manufacturing is amazing. The airport is undergoing a massive upgrade in facilities and they should extend the runway ASAP. That said CLT needs to attract more foreign airlines to use CLT as a hub. Despite what some people think the quality of schools in the area (both NC and SC) is very high. One should not mistake State averages with anything within say a 30 miles radius of Charlotte. There are quality condos, houses, golf courses and two MAJOR lakes to live on. Frankly I am amazed that California still attracts so many hi-tech start ups given its uncompetitive cost of living. high cost of RE and high taxation.. The Charlotte area offers a lot and many companies are moving there. How do I know this? After several years of looking to move out of the NY Metropolitan area I moved 20 minutes outside of Charlotte (technically in SC) this last summer.
        Hedo D
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Ian J
        Why does start-ups are attracted to California? Maybe because colleges are better there? When you have Stanford, Caltech, Cal, UCLA, and Claremont colleges with great weathers and Silicon Valley being there for a long time with Apple, Intel, Google, and Facebook, that would be quite obvious.
        avanti
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Ian J
        Ian, It's about location, location, location. Proximity to Japan is key here. Toyota must have access to frequent non-stop flights to Japan. Charlotte has none! Toyota prefers to be closer in time zone access to its Asian operations. Charlotte adds 2 more hours of communication lag and time this can be critical on a daily basis. Also attracting your California staff to the prospect of relocation. A lot of Californians would shudder at the thought of South Carolina. The politics and social mores alone would keep me, a college educated mid-level executive and liberal minority, from even considering a move to the South. Texas is a stretch but doable. Unfortunately stigma of the old southern states is alive and well.
      Renaurd
      • 7 Months Ago
      Never under estimate the closeness to Mexico.
      P.F. Bruns
      • 7 Months Ago
      Toyota Disneyed everyone!
      P.F. Bruns
      • 7 Months Ago
      Toyota Disneyed everyone!
      mmmlite.beers
      • 7 Months Ago
      The Charlotte Observer loves to burn the airport whenever they get a chance. CLT has a shovel ready project to extend their main runway by 2000 ft, therefore allowing it to handle 777,747 aircraft capable of making it to Japan. US Airways is now American and they have nonstop flights from Chicago and New York. So it would simply be a market analysis at that point to determine if flying out of CLT to NRT is a viable business option. CLT is expanding parking, roadways, and rental car facilities to make room for a new international terminal capable of handling those aircraft also. These expansions take time, and cost money. CLT didnt become one of the lowest CPE (cost per enplaned passenger) international airports with the 'build it and they will come' mantra. They wait for the airlines to beat down their doors demanding more gates and runways for carefully planned growth.
      Avinash Machado
      • 7 Months Ago
      Good idea.
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