New TNJ alert: Ford labor deal to construct plant worries lawmakers, election changes proposed

The Blue Oval City plans superimposed on a map of the West Tenenssee Megasite.

— GOP lawmakers fret over Ford’s national labor agreement to build West Tennessee site.

— Proposal to require residency requirements for congressional candidates could have big effect on 5th District race – if it’s legal.

— Numbering disparity in new Senate maps could serve as basis for redistricting lawsuit.

— From the campaign trail: Kelsey dodges primary challenge from prominent House chairman, candidates line up to run for seats being vacated by Byrd and Halford, Stewart joins the ranks of retiring lawmakers.


The Tennessee Performing Arts Center says its in “ongoing discussion” with the state about its future home, Andy Ogles is “offended” by Morgan Ortagus, Lee Beaman is back at Belmont, and the former senator who made it legal to have up to a gallon of booze on you in every Tennessee county has died.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

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Check out plans for the massive new Ford plant in West Tennessee

Ford’s new Blue Oval City in West Tennessee is coming into focus. The Tennessee Journal has come across a schematic for the 3,600-acre, $5.6 billion plant located about 40 miles from downtown Memphis.

The buildings in red are 100% owned by Ford, while the purple ones represent the joint venture with battery maker SK Innovation of South Korea (right-click on the image to open a larger version in another tab).

Lawmakers in October approved an inventive package totaling $884 million to secure Ford investment. The deal included $500 million in grants for the automaker and its partners, $200 million for road work, $138 million for site prep and a wastewater pipeline, $40 million for a new College of Applied Technology, $5 million for consulting and legal services, and $728,000 to pay for the first year of the new Megasite Authority’s operations and salaries.

About 5,800 people are expected to work at Blue Oval City once it is up and running.

Here’s what the site looked like before the state got Ford to agree to start building there.

New TNJ edition alert: Lee lands megasite funding

The state Senate holds a redistricting hearing on Oct. 18, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

This week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out in the world. Here are the highlights:

— Lee secures $884M incentive package for Ford’s megasite project.

— Like it or not (and business groups don’t), another special session approaches.

— From the campaign trail: Congressional fundraising, Democrat drops gubernatorial bid, Robinson gets an opponent, and Weston Wamp jumps into the Hamilton County mayor’s race.

— Slatery to lawmakers: I’m not political, you’re political.

Also: Kiffin take the high road, Japan-America Society criticized for honoring Hagerty, and Vaughan likens deficiencies in megasite deal to eating carrot cake without pecans in the icing.

As always, access your copy of the TNJ here or subscribe here.

UPDATE: Ford incentive deal, megasite panel approved by General Assembly

The Memphis Regional Megasite.

The nearly $900 million incentive package for Ford to build Blue Oval City on the Memphis Regional Megasite has passed both chambers of the General Assembly.

The Senate voted 27-3 on both the funding measure and a bill creating a new megasite authority. The opponents were Sens. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), and Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield).

The House later voted 90-3 to approve the bill fudning the megasite. Opponents were Reps. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka), Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster), and Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro).

The bills are expected to be signed into law quickly by Gov. Bill Lee so work on the megasite can get underway.

New TNJ edition alert: Megasite comes out on top

In this week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal:

— Dirty word no more: West Tenn. megasite lands huge Ford plant.

— Obituaries: 16-year justice Clark, GOP player Shoaf, income tax backer Stewart.

— Federal jury convicts Democrat Robinson of wire fraud charges.

Also: Niceley touts “soft secession,” Fiscus wants to put muzzle business behind her, congressional delegation wants to name post office after Harper, and a look into endangered species among Tennessee politicos.

As always, access your copy of the TNJ here or subscribe here.

Ford picks Memphis Regional Megasite for $5.6B electric vehicle and battery plant

Ford is announcing plans to build a $5.6 billion electric vehicle and battery manufacturing facility on the sprawling Memphis Regional Megasite. The Dearborn, Mich-based automaker said the project dubbed Blue Oval City will create nearly 6,000 jobs.

Gov. Bill Lee said he will call a special session in the coming weeks for lawmakers to approve a $500 million incentive package for the project slated to comprise nearly all of the 6.5-square-mile site in Haywood County. Lee noted that Tennessee will join Indiana as the only states where four auto companies produce vehicles. The Volunteer State’s existing manufacturers, General Motors, Nissan, and Volkswagen also have made heavy investments in electric vehicles.

Ford plant is projected to start assembling electric F-Series trucks in 2025 and the joint venture with South Korea’s SK Innovation is slated to begin making batteries there the same year. Company officials say it is Ford’s first all-new plant to be commissioned since 1969.

The Ford F-150 Lightning Electric Truck. (Image credit: Ford)

The ongoing development of the megasite has been a subject of a yearslong debate among lawmakers and politicians, some of whom have complained it was too big, remote, and expensive. According to an outside study previously commissioned by the Lee administration, 18 prospects had considered — but decided against — the megasite, including five original equipment manufacturers, five battery or stored energy companies, six tiremakers, one data center, and an appliance manufacturer.

Here’s the full release from Ford:

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Lee, Boyd differ on megasite development at guber forum

Two leading Republican candidates for governor in Tennessee drew a contrast over an economic development “megasite” during a forum Thursday, reports the Associated Press.

At the Tennessee Press Association forum, former state economic development chief Randy Boyd said it’s worth the time and remaining investment of $70 million-plus to the Memphis Regional Megasite because it could help create more than 30,000 jobs.

But businessman Bill Lee said there isn’t currently a workforce prepared for the jobs that the megasite might attract.

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Haslam proposes $30M in bonds to partially cover remaining Megasite expenses

Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed state budget for the next fiscal year calls for issuing $30.7 million in bonds to partially cover the extra cost of making the Memphis Megasite “shovel ready.” As WPLN reports, that’s less than half the $80 million that Economic and Community Development officials said is needed.

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Megasite waste water dumping site relocated after vocal local opposition

After vocal opposition from residents in and around the Tipton County community of Randolph, located on the banks of the Mississippi River, state officials are withdrawing their current plans for the Memphis Regional Megasite’s 35-mile long wastewater pipeline, reports the Memphis Daily News.

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Gubernatorial candidates speak on more money for Megasite

Gubernatorial candidates attending a Southwest Tennessee Development District gathering mostly voiced support for continued development of the Memphis Regional Megasite, according to the Jackson Sun. State officials say the project needs another $72 million in state funding to become “shovel ready” in addition to $140 million already spent — and Gov. Bill Haslam hasn’t said whether he’ll include the money in his final budget proposal for the coming year.

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