Editorials

Toyota plant's expansion good for region

Barry True inspected cars Thursday at the Toyota plant in Georgetown. The plant will expand to produce the Lexus ES 350 beginning in 2015.
Barry True inspected cars Thursday at the Toyota plant in Georgetown. The plant will expand to produce the Lexus ES 350 beginning in 2015. Herald-Leader

At a time when the economy still feels shaky, it's reassuring to see signs that Kentucky's auto industry is more solid than ever.

Toyota's announcement last week that it will begin making Lexus sedans for the first time in this country in Kentucky in 2015 is big news.

Toyota's $531 million investment (offset by a promised $146.5 million in state tax incentives) will create 750 new jobs at the Georgetown plant, bringing total employment to 6,739.

Because the expansion will require a new assembly line, the spin-off benefits for auto parts makers in Kentucky could be substantial.

Gov. Steve Beshear, who met with top Toyota officials late last year in Japan, said economic development legislation enacted in a 2012 special session to help Ford expand in Louisville also helped seal the Toyota deal.

While it makes sense for the Japanese automaker to build its vehicles closer to where they're going to be marketed, the decision to expand at Georgetown also is a vote of confidence in Toyota's Kentucky work force.

And it's not the first. Toyota announced plans last year to increase engine production at the Georgetown plant.

Toyota and its workers have weathered some ups and downs in the last few years, some of them self-inflicted. It's good to see the rebounding company's partnership with Kentucky remains strong.

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