Gov. Bill Lee delivers State of West Tennessee address

Updated: Feb. 13, 2020 at 10:50 PM CST
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JACKSON, Tenn. (WMC) - Governor Bill Lee delivered his second annual State of West Tennessee address on Thursday.

It’s the governor’s attempt to reach Tennesseans outside of Nashville.

The governor spoke for about 45 minutes at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee.

He focused on economic development, education and the West Tennessee Mega site in desperate need of a tenant.

“You may have read some stories over the last week saying we're hitting the pause button on development, but let me tell you right now, we're not pausing in our commitment to the Mega site,” said Governor Bill Lee to the crowd inside the Chambers-McClure Academic Center in Jackson.

The governor wasted little time trying to silence rumors about the 4,000-acre Memphis Mega site In Haywood county. The site that has been vacant for about 15 years.

Lee says it is still a priority.

“We're pursuing permits, easements, moving forward with a plan for utilities, but all of those things have to happen and I believe will happen in order for us to attract a company,” said Lee.

The Governor also focused on the state’s other economic development successes in West Tennessee such as Amazon’s $200 million investment into a robotic fulfillment center in Raleigh.

While the Governor said the state of our economy is healthy, he says there is much work to be done in education.

“The biggest academic challenge for our students is literacy,” said Lee.

Lee wants to invest $70 million to equip teachers with professional development, materials and other tools to increase the state’s literacy rate.

The Governor's address comes on the heels of a heated debate over spending for the governor's Education Spending Account plan or school vouchers.

The plan is set to roll out next school year only in Shelby and Davidson counties.

However some lawmakers, including one key Republican, are questioning how the vendor’s contract ballooned to 6.3 million. That is more than eight times the amount approved by the legislature last year.

We asked the governor if there are any plans to delay the plan with this new development.

“Here’s what we want to do. We want the plan that’s quality and that we don’t want to sacrifice any quality,” said Lee.

The governor now heads back to Nashville where the legislature is in full swing.

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