NC offered $100M for Toyota HQ, twice Texas bid – WRAL

The Political Agitator response: Now this is quite interesting!

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina business recruiters offered Toyota more than $100 million in incentives for the world’s largest carmaker to move its North American headquarters to Charlotte rather than a Dallas suburb, but still lost out to a Texas offer half that size.

Only about a quarter of the nearly 3,000 jobs paying an average of $105,000 a year were expected to move from Southern California, meaning a golden but missed job-creating opportunity for the region, according to North Carolina recruiting documents and emails released to The Associated Press last week in response to a public records request.

State law requires the release of recruiting documents after a company has announced a decision on its preferred location, which Toyota did four months ago. Since Gov. Pat McCrory took office last year, state agencies often take many months to comply. (Source: Read more)

LEADING AFRICAN-AMERICAN DECISION-MAKER AT TOYOTA BEING HONORED by William Reed

When the 16th Annual Urban Wheel Awards convene in Detroit during the January 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA, Inc’s Group Vice President and General Manager, Fletcher V. Davidson will receive the event’s Executive of the Year Award.

“These Annual Urban Wheel Awards are our way of showing African Americans’ appreciation for those auto companies that recognize and respect their buying power," said program founder Randi Payton. The Urban Wheels Awards started in 1996 as a feature of the African Americans on Wheels Magazine.  Occurring during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), the 2012 Urban Wheels Awards shows how the program has evolved into “the world-class show promoting diversity and inclusion in the automotive industry.”  Payton said the 2012 winners of the Urban Wheel Company of the Year Awards “are being recognized for demonstrating a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in the areas of Workforce Development, Community Leadership, Minority Supplier Development, and Diversity Inclusion Leadership.”  The awardees are: Chrysler Group LLC – Workforce Development; General Motors Company – Community Leadership; Ford Motor Company – Minority Supplier Development and Toyota Motor Corporation – Diversity Inclusion Leadership.  Payton said “We are delighted to recognize Toyota Motors for its leadership in diversity and inclusion … and impressive record leading the industry with diversity initiatives and … internal leadership and commitment.”

In fact, the people at Toyota have set a new trend in the industry and made strategic and measurable moves to reach Black buyers. A positive culture for people of color is emerging at Toyota. People at the top in Toyota are valuing Blacks as consumers, vendors and team members. Toyota has an advertising agreement with Black publishers. In 2011, Toyota was named among the Best Companies for Diversity by Black Enterprise for its achievements in supplier diversity.  Founded in 1937 by Kiichiro Toyoda, the Toyota Motor Corporation of today appears to have a different culture and perspective. Toyota Motor Corporation Group Companies are Toyota (including Scion brand), Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino Motors, along with several “non-automotive” companies. Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. markets products and services through a network of nearly 1,500 dealers which sold more than 1.76 million vehicles in 2010. Toyota employs nearly 30,000 people in the U.S.

In his executive role at Toyota, Davidson leads a team of 2,400 associates who support $3.5 billion in sales. Payton said that Davidson is being honored for his “proven success in management, specifically for his strategic leadership during the 2010 recalls and 2011 earthquake and tsunami.” “I am honored to receive the Executive of the Year Award. This award comes as supply is improving and we are preparing to introduce 20 new products over the next few years,” said Davidson.   Toyota’s record on diversity and inclusion is a result of the leadership and commitment of its Black executives. Ed Lewis, head of Strategic Communications & Media Relations, said “At Toyota, we believe an auto company can be a vehicle for change and a key element in strengthening community needs nationwide.”  Since 1991, Toyota contributed nearly $540 million to U.S. philanthropic programs that included the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and “Push for Excellence.” Toyota’s supplier-diversity program has more than 7 percent of Tier I (direct contractor) spending going to minority-owned businesses.

Toyota has a number of African Americans in high-level decision-making positions. Jim Colon is vice president of Product Communications. Christopher P. Reynolds is a group vice president and general counsel for the Legal Services Group. Jerome Miller is vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, and Wil James is president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.

The Wheels Awards’ agenda includes honoring Washington Post automotive columnist Warren Brown with a Lifetime Achievement Award as recognition for his being one of the nation’s most influential auto writers since he started coverage of the industry in 1982. A special tribute will be made toward auto companies that made major contributions to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial by MLK Memorial CEO Harry Johnson.

(William Reed is Publisher of Who’s Who in Black Corporate America and available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org)

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TOYOTA: TOP CHOICE AMONG AFRICAN AMERICANS by William Reed Columnist

The “Black Market” will play a major role among automobile makers for the next two decades. The African-American market is “the best thing going” and if automobile manufacturers don’t establish creditable linkages for their brands with this audience they will, undoubtedly, lose significant market share and growth opportunities. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that the African-American population will grow 12 percent by 2020 and by nearly 25 percent in 2030. In 2010, the Black car-buying pace totaled 10 times that of the general market. Last year, Toyota led all automotive brands among new vehicle purchases made by African Americans. New vehicle registrations among this audience totaled 641,090 and amounted to 7.4 percent of all 2010 new vehicle registrations. Ford ranked second among African-American buyers with Chevrolet rounding out the Top 3. The demand for Buick jumped 70 percent. Korean brands are also making gains among this key buying group.

In a well-publicized campaign about “respect and reciprocity” Black newspaper publishers dared Toyota to forge better business relationships with them and the communities that they serve. In their response to Black media operators and market experts, Toyota has, in fact, set a new trend the industry. Toyota made moves to reach Black buyers where they live. Deals are being “put in place” that align automotive manufacturers’ and dealers’ specific initiatives to this audience. Toyota has America’s Black newspaper publishers have reached an advertising agreement with Toyota that will soon have their local publications promoting the benefits of purchasing a Toyota product. Toyota’s Lexus is America’s luxury market leader, but Buick, Hyundai, Kia, Cadillac, GMC and Infiniti are also doing extremely well in the African-American market and should be on Black newspaper client lists as well. However, Acura, Land Rover, Mercedes and BMW are not increasing their share of the African-American market as effectively. These companies have an opportunity to connect more with this audience and increase their market share by attracting more affluent African Americans to their brands.

On the downside, “I want a 2012 Toyota Prius” isn’t a mantra of many Black car buyers. Blacks have not been vocal in terms of hyping the Prius or any of the environmentally-conscious automobiles. First and foremost is concern about the overall cost, a 2011 Prius ranges from $23,225 to $30,700. And rarely have you seen a basketball player, hip-hop artist or actor stepping out of a battery-powered Prius.

In 2011, executive leaders at Toyota had their hands full, but fought back from massive safety recalls, the global credit crisis and factories damaged in the March 11 Japan earthquake. Despite those challenges, the world’s largest automaker has restored its North American production to normal levels. This production schedule surpassed the company’s initial expectations. Shortly after the March 11 disaster, Toyota had forecast a return to normal production by November or December. But, in June, Toyota reported that eight of its 12 North American-built models returned to 100 percent output – Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Matrix, Highlander, Sienna, Sequoia and Venza. In August, Toyota confirmed 100 percent production of Tacoma, Tundra, RAV 4 and Lexus RX 350. Together, the 12 models account for nearly 70 percent of the company’s U.S. sales.

Over coming years, automotive manufacturers will seek to capture larger numbers of Black buyers. Drive by any African-American church on Sunday, and you’ll see that Blacks are also purchasing Cadillacs, Lincolns, Mercedes and BMWs. Those companies aren’t “ponying up” like Toyota. The pact between the Black Press of America and Toyota sets standards Black consumers should too demand. Black publishers want local companies and multi-nationals to understand the value of using their publications as advertising mediums; conversely, it’s important that Black consumers demand that minority-owned media firms receive a fair share of corporate or governmental advertising expenditures. So, it’s necessary that Black consumers insist on retailers’ “respect” and “reciprocity” that result in advertising purchases that equal the level of Black patronage of their products. Companies’ use of Black media to reach African-American consumers with language and content that resonates among them makes good sense. (William Reed is available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org)

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