Black wants Memphis Megasite redo; other guber candidates would stay the project’s course

Diane Black has taken a strikingly different stance on developing the Memphis Regional Megasite in Haywood County notes the Jackson Sun in a Thursday article rounding up comments from other gubernatorial candidates on the subject. Black proposes to turn the megasite into an “agricultural hub” instead of continuing the so-far-unsuccessful effort to get a big new business located there.

Black outlined her proposal in an Commercial Appeal op-ed piece back in late April, declaring the project has been “a boondoggle from the beginning” and “thoroughly mismanaged by the bureaucrats in Nashville” – including, presumably, fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd, who headed the Department of Economic and Community Development for a period of the megasite’s development.

From the Sun piece:

Boyd said he wants to correct his “failure” of not landing a tenant as ECD commissioner and believes the Megasite is “shovel ready” now, which he defines as “sell ready,” contradicting ECD’s current stance that the site is not “shovel ready.”

“The more people I get to know throughout West Tennessee, the more I realize their hopes and dreams depend on us making this successful,” Boyd said. “I’m determined to finish the infrastructure and land multiple major manufacturers.”

(Democrat Craig) Fitzhugh, the House minority leader and only West Tennessee resident in the race, said while the state should be further along on the Megasite, he is pleased that progress is trending in the right direction.

Fitzhugh said the Megasite remains a “good” project and he is committed to finishing it out if elected, because it will benefit the entire state — not just West Tennessee.

… (Republican) House Speaker (Beth) Harwell said poor communication between the legislature and local officials hurt the project, but that has been overcome in the past year.

Harwell said it’s critical for the state to prove it has the workforce needed for the Megasite, and that she is committed to finish the project out and is still optimistic about the Megasite’s potential.

“It’s helpful that I’m aware of the project and have studied it for some time,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful I can sell our state, because I’m proud of the fact we’re a very pro-business state.”

…(Democrat Karl Dean) said he will look to bipartisan support to help get the funding in order to get the Megasite “shovel ready” to help make the state’s large investment worthwhile.

…“We have to have enough confidence to invest in ourselves at times,” Dean said. “This is one of those situations where this is an investment in West Tennessee and the people of West Tennessee, and we should have the confidence to make that investment.”

… For (Republican Bill) Lee, a Williamson County businessman, the word “disappointment” is what comes to mind when asked about the Megasite.

Lee said finishing the infrastructure for a potential employer is his main goal and also finding recruiters to locate in rural Tennessee — an area of the state Lee has built his campaign on.

“It’s in the middle of the heart of West Tennessee,” Lee said. “West Tennessee for way too long has not received the attention that it should with regard to economic development, and to focus on improving life and the economy and jobs in this part of the country.”

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