HICKORY, KY — Could the next Toyota and Mazda plant be built in west Kentucky? The Purchase Area Regional Industrial Authority recently voted to offer the two automakers free land if they choose to build the new factory they plan to create together in Graves County.
Farmer Ben Wilson said he will believe it when he sees it.
Wilson is busy working on his September harvest. He and his family live across from the 2,100-acre mega site and have farmed that land for more than 60 years. Although he has had issues with how the board conducts business, he said he wouldn’t mind being neighbors with the car manufacturer.
“I’m pushing 50, got two kids in college, got a boy in high school. I know what the job opportunities are in the area, and it would be great,” said Wilson.
Wilson said he would love to see a different type of plant in that field, but he is not very optimistic.
“I probably got a better chance of winning the lottery than them landing a factory at this site,” said Wilson.
With Gov. Matt Bevin supporting another site for the plant, the Graves County Economic Development President Ryan Drane said the county needs as much support as it can get.
“It’s going to be extremely competitive. We fully realize it’s going to be an uphill battle, not only for western Kentucky, but for the entire state of Kentucky, which is why it’s very important for all of us to stick together,” said Drane.
Back at the farm, Wilson plans to keep supporting his family by farming, no matter if the plant comes or not.
Drane said offering the free land is just the first step of a very long process. The Purchase Area Regional Industrial Authority will continue to market the property if the company decides not to take the offer.