Foreign Auto Plants Have Received $3.6 Billion in Subsidies, Mostly from Southern States

December 15, 2008

Responding to many queries, Good Jobs First released its summary of state and local subsidies given to foreign-owned auto assembly plants, totaling $3.6 billion.

“As elected officials debate aid for the Big 3, taxpayers have the right to know the full extent of government involvement in America’s auto industry,” said Greg LeRoy, GJF’s executive director. “And while proposed federal aid to the Big 3 would take the form of a loan, the vast majority of subsidies to foreign auto plants were taxpayer gifts such as property and sales tax exemptions, income tax credits, infrastructure aid, land discounts, and training grants,” he said.

Honda, Marysville, OH, 1980, $27 million*

Nissan, Smyrna, TN, 1980, $233 million**

Toyota, Georgetown, KY, 1985, $147 million

Honda, Anna, OH, 1985, $27 million*

Subaru, Lafayette, IN, 1986, $94 million

Honda, East Liberty, OH, 1987, $27 million*

BMW, Spartanburg, SC, 1992, $150 million

Mercedes-Benz, Vance, AL, 1993, $258 million

Toyota, Princeton, IN, 1995, $30 million

Nissan, Decherd, TN, 1995, $200 million**

Toyota, Buffalo, WV, 1996, more than $15 million

Honda, Lincoln, AL, 1999, $248 million

Nissan, Canton, MS, 2000, $295 million

Toyota, Huntsville, AL, 2001, $30 million

Hyundai, Montgomery, AL, 2002, $252 million

Toyota, San Antonio, TX, 2003, $133 million

Kia, West Point, GA, 2006, $400 million

Honda, Greensburg, IN, 2006, $141 million

Toyota, Blue Springs, MS, 2007, $300 million

Volkswagen, Chattanooga, TN, 2008, $577 million

Total: more than $3.58 billion

* total of direct subsidies to all Honda facilities in Ohio

** includes about $200 million for expansions of Smyrna and Decherd plants

List does not include joint ventures with U.S. companies

These data, drawn primarily from contemporary media accounts, are very conservative. They do not account for inflation; some would be worth far more in today’s dollars. They do not include any estimate of subsidies granted to hundreds of foreign-owned auto supply companies that have located in the same areas, virtually all of which were also heavily subsidized. Finally, they do not reflect later news accounts, which often place higher subsidy values.

Good Jobs First is a non-profit, non-partisan research center promoting best practices in economic development and smart growth, based in Washington, DC, with offices in New York and Chicago.