West TN Megasite spurned by Toyota Mazda; Black campaign sees ‘inexcusable loss for our state’

State Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe has confirmed that the Memphis Regional Megasite as been eliminated from consideration for a new Toyota-Mazda manufacturing plant, reports the Jackson Sun. A second, undisclosed company has also rejected the site.

Diane Black’s gubernatorial campaign promptly issued a statement to media declaring the decision indicates a failure to make Tennessee a business-friendly state – an apparent reference to former ECD Commissioner Randy Boyd, one of Black’s opponents in the GOP gubernatorial campaign, and perhaps to Gov. Bill Haslam. Neither are mentioned by name in the statement.

From the Sun:

Toyota and Mazda announced earlier this year its decision to build a $1.6 billion electric car plant in the U.S., which is expected to create 4,000 jobs and spur thousands of related supplier jobs and would have transformed West Tennessee.

West Tennessee residents officials saw the massive plant as an economic driver for their hard-pressed region and were confident as recently as last week the Megasite would make the final list of sites under consideration.

Rolfe said the reason Toyota-Mazda passed on the Megasite was because the site is not “shovel-ready” as compared to other sites in other states, because of two main hurdles the Megasite must overcome.

In November 2016, work began on implementing a 35-mile force main that would carry treated sewage from the Megasite all the way to the Mississippi River.

Rolfe said the first gating item is getting the wastewater permits for the force main from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

“If the stars line up, we are hopeful we will have all the necessary permits before the end of quarter one in 2018,” Rolfe said.

Rolfe confirmed a second undisclosed tenant also rejected the Megasite. The Megasite, located 30 miles outside Memphis and 12 miles outside Brownsville, has seen the state appropriate more than $140 million since it purchased the Megasite in 2009.

From the Black campaign:

The Diane Black for Governor campaign today reacted to the disappointing news that Toyota-Mazda has eliminated the Memphis Regional Megasite (formerly known as the West Tennessee Megasite) from consideration for its new plant.  Tennessee’s Economic and Community Development Commissioner confirmed that the megasite was removed from consideration because it was not “shovel-ready.”  The state purchased the land for the megasite in 2009 and taxpayers have invested $140 million thus far in preparing it for a tenant.

Diane Black for Governor Communications Director, Chris Hartline, made the following statement:

Some may campaign on making Tennessee a business-friendly state, but they are overlooking their failures to make Tennessee a business-ready state. The state has had years to make the Memphis Regional Megasite ‘shovel ready,’ and has come up short once again. Losing Toyota-Mazda is a tremendous, inexcusable loss for our state. We have to take action and stop leaving West Tennessee behind.


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