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Right to Work Alabama lands large auto manufacturing deal

Alabama has landed a coveted $1.6 billion joint venture plant by Japanese car giants Toyota and Mazda that will eventually employ 4,000 people.

“Alabama won a first place trophy today in being selected for that plant,” said Dave Sullivan, product analysis manager at AutoPacific Inc., an automotive research company. Sullivan said the factory itself is a huge asset for the state, but will also cause economic ripples by bringing spinoff jobs to suppliers and service companies in the area.

The decision to pick Alabama is another example of a long trend of foreign-based automakers building U.S. factories in the South. The low-cost labor and a pro-business labor environment, including right-to-work laws, has made these areas attractive to businesses.

Alabama became a “right-to-work” state in 1953 and added it to their constitution in 2016. Companies consider right-to-work laws as a major factor when deciding where to locate. Associated Industries of Missouri supported Missouri’s passage of a right-to-work law in 2017, but unions gathered signatures to put it before Missouri voters. Barring any further action, right-to-work will be on the November 2018 ballot.

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