State economic development officials confirm two Japanese automakers are considering Iowa as a possible location for a major new manufacturing plant.

Iowa is among 11 states trying to lure the joint venture by Toyota and Mazda. The $1.6 billion plant would employ up to 4,000 workers.

Tina Hoffman, communications director for the Iowa Economic Development Authority, says it would be a huge boost for Iowa to land such a facility.

Hoffman says, “This is a fabulous opportunity for our state and it’s one that we are doing our best to really put our best food forward and show all the reasons why that facility could be really important to Iowa’s economy and better yet, to really benefit the company if they were to locate here.”

One of several factors in Iowa’s favor is the fact many manufacturing plants are already in Iowa that create a host of parts and components for the automotive industry.

“Certainly, having those supply chain companies all right here and in place is a benefit to the company,” Hoffman says. “It will be something that we tout along the way.” Iowa’s largest manufacturing employer is John Deere, best known for its agricultural equipment. Over the decades, Iowa has been home to several automakers, including the Velie Motors Corporation in the Quad Cities, which was in operation from 1908 to 1928. There was also a parts and body production plant for Ford’s Model T in Des Moines during the same time frame, which closed in 1932.

“You don’t have to look in history to see that Iowa is a manufacturing state,” Hoffman says. “While we don’t manufacture cars, we certainly manufacture many, many other products. In fact, the largest sector of our economy is advanced manufacturing so a facility like that would be right at home here in the state.”

Iowa’s unemployment rate is among the nation’s lowest, which could be interpreted as a negative for trying to land a plant that would need a skilled workforce of 4,000, but on that element, Hoffman remains upbeat.

“Our employees are hard workers, they know how to manufacture great products,” Hoffman says. “This plant would be right at home here in Iowa.” Reports say Toyota/Mazda hopes to have the plant operating by 2021. No potential locations for the plant in Iowa are being released.