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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — Landing a top manufacturing plant like what Toyota and Mazda want to build is an economic game changer. The auto-manufacturing giants announced in August plans to build a $1.6 billion plant in the US, creating 4,000 jobs.

An industry expert in site selection not only believes North Carolina has made the short list of three states still in the running to land the plant, he says a megasite in the Piedmont Triad is the ideal fit.

“We think the [Greensboro-Randolph] megasite is a top candidate for the Mazda-Toyota duel plant,” said John Boyd, founder of the Princeton, New Jersey-based Boyd Company. “I think it fits a number of criteria that really distinguish it in the context of other megasites in the Southeast.”

Boyd believes the central location of the site between Raleigh and Charlotte, access to railroads and the business climate help it’s case. North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast without a major auto manufacturing plant.

“People have asked me, you know, ‘Why would they choose North Carolina when they have a presence in neighboring states?'” Boyd said. “The reality is that politics have always played a role in corporate site selection, but never to this extent.”

Boyd says auto-industry experts believe Toyota will eventually merge or even buy out Mazda. Boyd believes Toyota’s announcement on the site selection should come in the next several months, by the end of this year or beginning of 2018.

A spokesperson for Gov. Roy Cooper said, “The governor is constantly marketing North Carolina as the best place for growing companies to locate.”

Toyota released this statement to FOX8:

“We anticipate selecting a site in early 2018. We remain focused on finding the best possible site that meets our joint criteria for the future plant and do not wish to fuel any speculation. Until then, we are not in a position to discuss who is or isn’t in the running for the site.”