Tennessee considering $900M in incentives for Ford at Memphis Regional Megasite

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 7:39 PM CDT
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HAYWOOD COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - The Tennessee General Assembly is considering bills appropriating nearly a billion dollars in incentives for the new Ford facility coming to Haywood County.

A special session was called Monday to vote on two bills dealing with the development of a Ford plant in Haywood County.

One of the bills outlines the incentives package. The special session began Monday afternoon before going into a recess until Tuesday morning.

Governor Bill Lee has already promised a $500 million incentive to Ford Motor Company and its partnering company SK Innovation. They’re planning to build an electric vehicle and battery plant at the Memphis Regional Megasite in Haywood County.

House and Senate Bill 8002, in part, appropriates $200 million to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for improvements to roads leading to the site in Stanton.

“This is a completely rural area, so these infrastructure commitments involving wastewater, sewer, and transportation are crucial,” said Tipton County executive Jeff Huffman.

Last month, Ford Motor Company announced the more than $5 billion investment to bring an electric vehicle plant, and nearly 6,000 jobs, to the site in Stanton.

“The fundamental issue is how do you provide really urban-type services from a rural tax base,” Huffman said. “So, these incentives and the commitment the state has made to Ford Motor Company are going to benefit us.”

Huffman is in Nashville for the special session as legislatures get ready to vote on bills that directly impact Tipton County, even though the Megasite is in Haywood County.

Lee’s office said the $200 million in road improvements are for areas in Haywood, Fayette, and Tipton counties. They include a second interchange on I-40, road construction of SR 194 from SR 59 to SR 1, and a connector road to SR 222.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if there was an additional route of I-40 to Highway 70 for example,” Huffman said.

The General Assembly is also considering $40 million for a technical school to be built at the site, $138 million in other infrastructure needs, and a $500 million capital grant.

The bill includes approval for the state to build, own and operate water and wastewater systems to serve the Megasite. When asked about incentives from Tennessee Valley Authority, the company sent a statement saying in part:

“Due to business-sensitive details and confidential agreements, we are unable to share specifics.”

However, its full statement went on to say:

“Economic development is a fundamental part of TVA’s mission to make life better in the Tennessee Valley region. TVA’s most significant contribution to economic development and attracting world-class companies to the region is reliable, low-cost, and clean energy:

  • We have achieved 99.999% reliability each year since 2000
  • TVA industrial rates are lower than 95% of the nation’s top 100 utilities
  • About 60% of TVA’s energy is carbon-free, and we are a national leader in carbon reduction

TVA also has the proven engineering expertise and operational capability of meeting the unique power needs of large facilities, from government installations to materials production to major manufacturers, who count on the 24/7 availability of electricity within very tight tolerances.

Over the past five years, these factors have supported record-setting economic development success – attracting or retaining 341,000 jobs and over $45.4 billion in capital investment to the region. Partnering with states, communities, local power companies, and others to support economic development in the region; and TVA has been recognized by Site Selection magazine as one of the nation’s top utilities in economic development for 16 consecutive years.”

Along with the incentives package, the House and the Senate will vote on a bill to establish a Megastite Authority of West Tennessee.

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