NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee is on a "relatively short list" of sites in different U.S. states where Toyota Motor Corp. is looking to build an eighth North American vehicle assembly plant, Gov. Phil Bredesen said in a newspaper interview.
Bredesen spokeswoman Lydia Lenker confirmed Sunday that the governor told The Wall Street Journal that Toyota was considering two sites in Tennessee.
One is close to Chattanooga in southeastern Tennessee, and the other is near Alamo in western Tennessee, about 80 miles northeast of Memphis along Interstate 40.
Arkansas has long hoped to land a Toyota plant or other auto manufacturer for a site in Crittenden County. Hino, a division of Toyota, is building a parts plant near Marion. Toyota considered the area for a truck-assembly plant that eventually was awarded to San Antonio.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was scheduled to leave on Sunday for a trip to Asia, where he said he would meet with business leaders in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Huckabee said talks would be included with Hino and Toyota executives.
Toyota has said publicly it is scouting a site to build another North American plant, but has not disclosed specifics about its search.
Bredesen has acknowledged in the past that the state was trying to convince Toyota to build its plant in Tennessee.
Toyota will open a truck plant in San Antonio this year and a plant in Woodstock, Ontario, in 2007. The company also is scouting sites for an engine plant.
He has said he's optimistic about landing a Toyota plant because of the state's success in getting companies such as Nissan Motor Co. and International Paper Co. to relocate their headquarters to Tennessee.
"I think we're well positioned. We're seen as a good place for automotive assembly plants to operate," he told The Associated Press in April. "Certainly the experience of the Nissan plant here has been stellar, and I think that's very much seen by the Toyotas of the world and others."
Nissan announced last year that it planned to move its North American headquarters in California to the Nashville area. The company began moving to temporary offices in downtown Nashville last week and plans to complete the relocation by the end of July.
Bredesen said he's not sure when Toyota will make a decision, but believes one of the two sites he is offering has a good chance.
"I'm aware that they are interested in building a plant, and I am aware we are on a relatively short list of places," he told the newspaper for a story Sunday on its Web site. "We're working and being aggressive."
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