By Sabrina Bates, MVP Regional News Editor
A 6.6-square mile patch of land in Haywood County was the site of big announcements Friday when state and local officials joined Ford Motor Co. corporate team members in welcoming hundreds of people to the micro-community dubbed BlueOval City.
Construction is underway in Stanton, Tennessee, for Ford’s next level of automotive manufacturing. The State of Tennessee announced Ford’s $5.6 billion commitment to the Memphis Regional Megasite in 2021. The Megasite will house Ford’s electric-truck production plant, South Korea’s SK On electric-battery facility, a Tennessee College of Applied Technology and numerous suppliers of the manufacturing facilities.
The two manufacturers are expected to employ at least 6,000 people, with assembly of Ford’s electric truck expected to roll out in 2025.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee joined speakers under the tent at BlueOval City in Stanton on Friday where the 50th governor announced the state is committing $1 billion in investments for Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.
“What happens in rural Tennessee impacts all Tennesseans,” Lee said. He added he has a great appreciation for those who can “connect their brains to their hands” and stressed the need for skilled workers.
Not only is there a commitment from the state to help strengthen TCAT programs; there is also an investment by Ford Motor Co. into a pipeline for workforce development. Ford’s Global Director of Workforce Development Liliana Ramirez announced BlueOvals’ commitment to creating co-ops, internships and dual-enrollment courses for regional high schools, TCATs and Historically-Black Colleges and Universities through BlueOval Learning.
BlueOval City’s TCAT, which is also under construction on the megasite, will provide the onboard training for manufacturing employees. This was part of a $40 million investment by the State of Tennessee. The BlueOval City TCAT campus will operate under the umbrella of TCAT Jackson.
Ford EV designers, marketers and land development leaders are also collaborating with the University of Memphis Department of Art to create a student-led art installation that will serve as a landmark for BlueOval City. The piece, which is the focus of a University sculpture art course, will be installed this summer.
Ford Motor Co. CEO and President Jim Farley shared a teaser of the electric truck that is set to roll off assembly lines in 30 months. The manufacturing plant will be about 30 percent smaller than the company’s past production facilities.
“Project T3 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionize America’s truck. We are melding 100 years of Ford truck know-how with world-class electric vehicle, software and aerodynamics talent. It will be a platform for endless innovation and capability,” Farley said. At full production, 500,000 electric trucks a year are expected for assembly at the facility.
Farley also announced this is Ford’s first carbon-neutral, vehicle manufacturing plant with zero waste to landfills. The company is working to have all of its plants powered with renewable and carbon-free electricity by 2035. One-hundred percent of Ford trucks are built in America.
Mary Culler, president of Ford Fund, added to the day’s energy and excitement with an announcement of $1.2 million in grant funds for 17 non-profit organizations in southwest Tennessee. More than 200 organizations applied for the grants.
Among those awarded grants in Shelby County are the Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South, Memphis A. Philip Randolph Institute, Code Crew and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Other recipients from five neighboring counties included volunteer fire departments.
BlueOval City will also house a Lowe’s store on site, two construction rental companies and three concrete batch plants in an effort to reduce traffic congestion, emissions and wear on roads leading to the campus.
On Friday evening, City of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced the city was lighting up the Memphis Bridge “Ford Blue” to welcome and thank the company for investing in West Tennessee.