Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

First Advisor

Thomas H. Appleton

Department Affiliation

History

Abstract

This study is an examination of the social, economic, and governmental factors that surrounded the establishment of Toyota Motor Corporation's first wholly owned automobile plant in the United States. After a lengthy negotiation with several states, the plant was built in Scott County, Kentucky, near the city of Georgetown. The collected and archived correspondence of Governor Martha Layne Collins as well as contemporary media accounts and interviews with Governor Collins, Larry Hayes, Jiro Hashimoto, and Bill Londrigan served as the evidentiary basis for the research for this thesis. Previous interpretations have regarded the establishment of the factory as both a victory for the governor and an example of how a corporation can ingratiate itself into a small community. However, a broad examination of national perceptions of Japan and local reaction to the plant reveals a considerably more nuanced situation. Georgetown did not immediately embrace the plant as a source for much needed employment, nor did the community bow to the will of a large, benevolent, corporate sponsor. This thesis argues that the state and local governments, the company, and the citizens of the community and the commonwealth all wielded power in a manner designed to forge a relationship that would prove beneficial to all parties. By recognizing power in the hands of the people of Kentucky, it can be seen that while national relations with Japan were strained, the citizens of Kentucky chose not to exercise the power they wielded that could have rejected the impact of foreign economic development. The citizens were neither powerless pawns nor an ecstatic mob. They were rational actors exercising power in order to obtain the desired result.

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