Special Session on Historic Megasite Investment Comes to a Close

Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | 02:13pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly closed a special session to address funding and oversight of Ford Motor Company’s historic $5.6 billion investment at the Megasite of West Tennessee.  

“This single-largest investment in state history marks a tremendous win for rural Tennessee and will strengthen our workforce for generations,” said Gov. Lee. “The special session has given Tennesseans clear visibility into the project, and I thank the General Assembly for their legislative action.”

“I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to formalize this historic partnership that will make Blue Oval City a reality. The State of Tennessee laid the groundwork for the Megasite many years ago with the hope of a day like today,” said Lieutenant Governor McNally (R-Oak Ridge). “While our state has experienced tremendous economic growth and prosperity over the last decade, many areas of our state have been left behind. This Megasite and this partnership will bring high-quality jobs - and the prosperity that comes with them - to one of those areas. This is a great day for Tennessee.”

“This new partnership for the Megasite will unlock incredible potential of both Memphis and the entire West Tennessee region,” said Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville). “This historic deal will make us the automobile manufacturing leader in America.”

Economist Dr. Arthur B. Laffer noted the project’s impact on Tennessee’s economy and workforce.

“Tennesseans will reap benefits in the billions with the successful completion of Ford Motor Company’s Blue Oval City,” said Dr. Arthur B. Laffer. “The investment to complete the project is modest compared to the projected returns. This proposal is both transformational for Tennessee’s economy and the future of American manufacturing.”

The passed legislation includes the following measures:

Investing in Infrastructure and Workforce

SB 8002/HB 8002 approves appropriations to incentivize and complete the Megasite. Additional funding will provide for infrastructure and improvements to support regional growth including:

  • $500 million capital grant (ECD)
  • State to build, own and operate $40 million TCAT to strengthen Tennessee’s workforce (TBR)
  • State to build, own and operate water and wastewater systems to serve the Megasite (DGS)
  • State to build second interchange on I-40 to improve traffic flow and support population growth (TDOT)

Ensuring Strong Megasite Development

SB 8001/HB 8001 creates the Megasite Authority of West Tennessee to provide services necessary for operation and development of the Megasite. Key highlights of the Authority include:

  • Purpose of the Authority is to develop, operate, manage, incentivize and promote the Megasite
  • Authority actions like entering leases, capital grants, and accountability agreements will be subject to approval by the State Building Commission, providing opportunities for public engagement
  • The Authority will be governed by an 11-member board of directors, which includes two gubernatorial appointments. The governor will sit on the board as an ex-officio member.

Tennessee to Reap Benefits in the Billions

Analysis from the Center for Economic Research, a division of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, projects Ford’s historic investment will result in significant economic gains. The project is expected to:

  • Generate 27,000 new jobs to support the Megasite’s operations, including direct, indirect and induced new jobs. This will result in $1.02 billion in annual earnings
  • Contribute $3.5 billion each year to Tennessee’s gross state product
  • Provide $22.4 million each year in state tax revenue
  • Generate temporary construction benefits including $5.6 billion in capital investments on buildings and other real property improvements. Additionally, the equivalent of 33,000 temporary direct, indirect and induced jobs are expected to support the construction period, with around $1.87 billion in salaries related to construction activity and $178.9 million in state tax revenue

Tennessee will Drive the Future of the Automotive Industry

Four major OEMs and 920 automotive suppliers in 88 of 95 counties employ nearly 140,000 Tennesseans. Additionally, Tennessee claims nearly 40 percent of the Southeast’s electric vehicle manufacturing jobs and investment, with more than $11.9 billion invested by companies in Tennessee’s electric vehicle industry. More than 15,000 electric vehicles are produced in the state each year, ranking Tennessee No. 1 in the Southeast for electric vehicle manufacturing.

On September 27, Ford and SK Innovation announced a $5.6 billion investment to build a 3,600-acre mega campus called Blue Oval City on the Megasite, marking the largest investment in state history.