Ford’s Blue Oval City to include first-of-its-kind trade school, create 6K new jobs in Tennessee

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 12:54 PM CDT
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HAYWOOD COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee Governor Bill Lee formally announced plans for a billion-dollar vehicle and battery manufacturing plant coming to the Mid-South. Ford Motor Co and South Korean battery manufacturer SK Innovation are teaming up to build several state-of-the-art factories in the U.S.

Tennessee’s is called Blue Oval City and it’s setting up shop just 50 miles from Downtown Memphis at the Memphis Regional Mega Site in Haywood County. After 12 years the 3,600 acres of land will be out to use.

“Blue Oval City will be the largest auto manufacturing in our 118-year history,” Ford Motor Company’s CEO Jim Farley said. “It will also be the cleanest and most efficient.”

The site will build the electric F-150 Lightning and the batteries that power it. The focus on clean energy is in direct response to climate change.

“We see this as a call to action,” Executive Chair of Ford Motor Company Bill Ford said.

“Ford Motor Company is obviously very committed to stewardship and the environment so we partner and join with them in that commitment,” Gov. Lee said.

Lee says not only will the $5.6 billion investment create 6,000 new jobs for Tennesseans but it will also include a first-of-its-kind trade school that will be built on the state-owned site.

It’s a part of a workforce development partnership between Tennessee College of Applied Technology and Ford.

The school’s training “will focus on electric vehicle and battery manufacturing and repair with the curriculum concentrating on mechatronics engineering and auto mechanics.”

“In last year’s budget we put $100 million toward applied technology colleges,” Gov. Lee said. “In the next budget we’ll propose more. One of those colleges will be in Blue Oval City.”

The $5.6 billion investment in the largest in Tennessee history and part of the largest investment in Ford history. Ford is planning to spend more than $11 billion in Tennessee and Kentucky to build plants to expand electric vehicle production.

Ford and SK Innovation has promised 6,000 jobs. A $500 million incentive from the state is contingent on that job creation.

“A $500 million incentive to the two partner companies to be broken up according to the job creation,” Gov. Lee said. “We do have claw back provisions to make certain that agreement holds in the years into the future.”

This is not Ford’s first presence in West Tennessee. It opened at Model T factory in Memphis in 1913, and relocated it to a South Memphis location in 1924.

So, if the construction plan runs on time, the Mega Site plant will open 100 years after the South Memphis factory opened. The Greater Memphis Chamber said construction will begin in January with an open date in 2024.

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