On Monday, Sept. 27, Governor Bill Lee announced that Ford Motor Company has selected the Memphis Regional Megasite as the location to build one of the largest vehicle and battery manufacturing campuses in the U.S. This development is predicted to be transformational to West Tennessee and to have ripple effects, possibly as far as Decatur County. While the megasite will be the epicenter of this growth, it will take efforts from the entire region to support this endeavor. Decatur County Mayor Mike Creasy stated, “The announcement of Ford and SK Innovation’s investment in West Tennessee is a life changing event for the economy here. The effects will extend from southern Kentucky to Northern Mississippi and from the Mississippi River to the Tennessee River. It will provide employment opportunities for future generations to have good paying jobs and be able to continue to live where they grew up – here at home in West Tennessee.”
For many West Tennesseans this past week is the first time they have ever heard of the Memphis Regional Megasite. According to the website of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the state of Tennessee has invested more than $174 million to date in the Memphis Regional Megasite, which is made up of 4,100 acres located just of I-40 in Haywood County approximately 50 miles outside of Memphis. Ford and SK Innovation, the first tenants of the Megasite, will invest $5.6 billion to build a 3,600-acre mega campus called Blue Oval City, where production of next generation all-electric F-Series trucks will begin in 2025. The project will result in the creation of 5,800 new jobs in West Tennessee. Blue Oval City will be designed to be the largest, most advanced and most efficient automotive production campus in Ford’s history. The campus will include the Ford assembly plant, a supplier park and a battery manufacturing plant.
While the final assembly of the vehicles will happen at the Megasite, there will still be a need for other manufacturers to locate in West Tennessee to make parts for these vehicles and for distributors to be here to transport them quickly to the Blue Oval City. Not every business will want to be right next to the Megasite; some will prefer to be elsewhere in West Tennessee, perhaps even in Decatur County. According to Charles Taylor, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Decatur County is primed and ready for this opportunity. Taylor said, “Mayor Creasy and the County Commission approved our plan about three years ago to begin the process of turning the 200 acres of county land just south of I-40 near exit 126 into a first-class industrial park. Our timing has turned out to be accurate, as we are now in Phase 3 of extending sewer to that site, and we will have a 20-acre padded level site that will be ready to build on in 2022. We will probably attract businesses needing warehouses or distribution centers. Our industrial park is well-positioned for those businesses because of both I-40 and Hwy. 641.” Taylor also said that this industrial park has been primarily developed through grants from the state of Tennessee and that he will continue to apply for more grants to help develop the rest of the 200 acres as well.
There will also be a need to train employees for the Blue Oval City and employees for the ancillary businesses that will come to West Tennessee to be close to the Megasite. On Tuesday, Sept. 28, Gov. Bill Lee announced that a new Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) will be developed on the Memphis Regional Megasite in conjunction with Ford Motor Company and SK Innovation’s Blue Oval City. The new TCAT will provide customized training developed in conjunction with Ford and SK Innovation. This high-quality training will focus on electric vehicle and battery manufacturing and repair with the curriculum concentrating on mechatronics engineering and auto mechanics.
According to the office of the governor, the Blue Oval City project is anticipated to generate more than 27,000 new jobs throughout West Tennessee, both directly and indirectly, to support the site’s operations. This will result in more than $1.02 billion in annual earnings. This project is also anticipated to contribute $3.5 billion each year to Tennessee’s gross state product. Even the building of the Blue Oval City will be a boost the economy of West Tennessee. This project is expected to generate temporary construction benefits including $5.6 billion spent on land, buildings and other real property improvements. Additionally, more than 32,000 jobs are expected to support the construction period, with around $1.87 billion in salaries related to construction activity. According to the Tennessee Department of Economic Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe, “The ripple effect resulting from these projects will be transformational for our state, especially West Tennessee, and we are most grateful for this enormous investment from Ford Motor Company and SK Innovation.”
It truly is an exciting time to be in West Tennessee.