Toyota Motor Corp. brings top engineers under one roof in Georgetown, Kentucky

GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- When Toyota Motor Corp. looks for new ideas, it looks to Kentucky.

The Japanese automaker, which commands the second-biggest market share in the U.S., showed off its $80 million North American engineering headquarters in Georgetown on Monday.  

Last month, Toyota also announced a $121 million expansion of a 2.5-liter engine capacity at its Georgetown plant.

"The most significant investment that has ever been made in Kentucky is Toyota, and it is the largest partner that we have," Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said at Monday's event.

Bevin and Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz toured the facility. Construction crews broke ground on the 230,000-square-foot engineering headquarters three years ago. It brings top engineers under one roof to focus on design, production, new technology and manufacturing for Toyota's facilities across the continent. They'll use 3-D printers, virtual reality, welders, lasers and more to turn ideas into prototypes. 

Georgetown also is home to Toyota's largest plant in the world. According to the company, that means engineers can quickly get feedback on their work -- and get new technology to customers faster.

"I've been in this business almost 40 years, and I will tell you that in the next 10 years, we will have more advancement in this industry than in the last 50," Lentz said.

For Kentucky's economy, Bevin said Toyota's a boon.

"To now be able to expand that, and bring the absolute best in terms of engineering -- not only to this campus, but from this campus to everywhere within the world of Toyota," he said. "And, truth be told, it's going to be transcended beyond this car company."

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