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Greensboro-Randolph Megasite preparing for development

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Thousands of manufacturing jobs could come to the Piedmont Triad if North Carolina clinches the bid for a proposed Toyota-Mazda manufacturing plant.

The Greensboro-Randolph Megasite is one possible site for the plant.

FOX8 talked exclusively with Brent Christensen, the CEO and president of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce. We asked him if the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite planned to bid for the Toyota-Mazda plant.

He wouldn't answer that question, but he said it's the kind of plant the megasite is vying for and he says the megasite is ready to handle it.

The Greensboro-Randolph Megasite is closer than ever to becoming a manufacturing plant. The timeline for move-in and development is at 18 months from when they close a deal with a company.

"That's the plan," Christensen said.

Christensen wouldn't tell us what other companies the megasite team is courting, but he did say projects like Toyota-Mazda's $1.6 billion plant are right up their alley.

"Those projects are the ones that we have hoped for and are going to go after very hard," he said.

Not everyone is on board.

"It's all talk," said Alan Ferguson, who lives near the megasite.

Hundreds of neighbors are still opposed to it. Their signs line the megasite's perimeter, reading "No Megasite Here." The neighbors have met every month for the past five years in opposition of the megasite.

"We will defend this as hard as we can go, all the way," Ferguson said. "And I speak for everybody who's in our group in saying that."

Now that project leaders are making pitches, neighbors are even more worried about the potential consequences of a plant.

"The amount of truck traffic we would have out here, the amount of car traffic that we would have out here on a daily basis, and the noise and the smells," Ferguson said.

The megasite group bought the properties that make up the site for two-and-a-half times their value. But neighbors like Ferguson who just live nearby are worried a plant would drop their property value.

"We're finished. We're finished if this happens," he said.

Attracting a manufacturing giant will also take a big incentive package from the governor's office, which could cost taxpayers a pretty penny.

Christensen says the economic benefits for the Triad as a whole greatly outweigh any costs to the community.

"We didn't assemble this site, we didn't work our butts off on this site to put just any old user there," he said. "We're going to put a first-rate, high caliber user there who's going to be a heck of a good neighbor."

He thinks the right manufacturer could change this community's mind.

"I think we're up to the challenge," Christensen said.