Experts weigh in on best way to prepare local economy for Blue Oval City Project
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Construction for Ford Motor Company’s $5.6 billion electric plant is well underway in Haywood County, Tennessee, but a project of this size will have a major impact on the entire region.
Experts say a massive project like Blue Oval City can change the way the community looks and how it feels.
“It’s better to start early than to try to play catchup,” said Ralph Moore, Executive Director of Memphis Area Association of Government.
That’s why the Memphis Area Association of Government hosted a forum Thursday to discuss different ways communities in the region can prepare.
The project is expected to bring 27,000 direct and in-direct jobs, and with that comes concerns of commuting, housing, infrastructure and more.
Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly gave advice from first-hand experience after the Volkswagen plant was built in the city in 2008.
He says workforce development is key.
“These are not old assembly line jobs where anybody can just walk in there and do them. They do require a fair amount of technical education, so the school system really has to get prepared,” Kelly said.
With a potential population increase comes a need for affordable housing and amenities like restaurants, schools and solid infrastructure.
Experts say having conversations like this now will be beneficial in the long run.
“Maybe one locality wants to benefit from some additional population base, and another wants to preserve what it has... we need to coordinate those things, so the region as a whole sees a win-win,” said Charlie Santo, Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Memphis.
For more about Blue Oval City, click here.
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