Editorial: City should give enthusiastic yes to Toyota expansion

The City of Columbus has the good fortune to be home to a high-quality corporate citizen in Toyota Material Handling. For decades, Toyota has been a premier employer and community partner for Columbus and the greater region.

The company’s track record of consistent growth has continued, and now TMH is asking the city to annex 70.53 acres into Columbus and rezone 65 acres from agriculture to industrial use to meet expansion needs.

Columbus City Council should enthusiastically approve those requests, scheduled to be heard March 19.

As The Republic’s Brad Davis reported, the land is north of Toyota’s current location: east of Interstate 65 and County Road 225W, between Deaver Road and County Road 300S. The city’s comprehensive plan identifies this property as being in the Woodside/Walesboro area for industrial use, and Toyota has held the property in reserve for several years, anticipating future use. Now, the future has arrived.

“The opportunity has now come for us to continue to expand our business we’ve grown in the Walesboro area for the last 35 years,” Toyota Material Handling Sr. Vice-President Tony Miller told the Columbus Plan Commission last week. “We are out of space and we are out of capacity.”

The Columbus Plan Commission last week unanimously gave favorable recommendations to the city council to annex and rezone property where TMH plans to build a 260,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.

That Toyota has planned ahead with land acquisition in the area is representative of its corporate culture as well as its commitment to a long-term community partnership. TMH is asking the city to facilitate expanded operations that already employ more than 1,000 people locally. The additional facility will allow the company to add about 85 new jobs likely by June 2026. There is every reason for the city to annex and rezone this land.

The Toyota name carries with it an international cachet for quality that is nearly peerless in manufacturing. That Columbus can claim a Toyota corporate headquarters is a distinction that speaks volumes to the international business community about our local economy. It’s hard to place a value on having a Toyota headquarters in your community.

Given all of this, we see nothing but gain for Columbus in facilitating TMH’s continued growth.

Furthermore, Columbus has its own reputation to consider. The city was ranked the No. 1 manufacturing hub among all small U.S. metropolitan areas by Business Facilities Magazine in 2022.

Toyota is a big part of that success, along with top manufacturing employers Cummins Inc., Faurecia, NTN Driveshaft and others that have a sizable presence in the Walesboro area.

Back in the late 1980s, when Toyota Material Handling’s headquarters was just a concept on Columbus drawing boards, the related Toyota automaker had a snappy, popular commercial jingle. It went, “Toyota — Who Could Ask for Anything More?”

That’s the question we believe Columbus City Council members should ask when they consider Toyota Material Handling’s annexation and rezoning requests. And we believe the city council couldn’t ask for anything more from a corporate citizen who seeks to continue to produce excellent results for its customers and its community.