Shelby Farms was the venue as Ford Motor Co. detailed its plans for a $5.6 billion investment into a high-tech campus at the Memphis Regional Megasite in Haywood County. (Courtesy photo)

Ford Motor Co. has announced plans to build America’s largest electric truck and battery plant at the Memphis Regional Megasite near Stanton, Tennessee in Haywood County.

Located between Memphis and Jackson, the site covers 4,000 acres of industrial land developed in 2012.

Stanton – a 50-mile, 49-minute drive from Memphis and a 42-mile, 47-minute drive from Jackson – will be the epicenter for: 

  • 6,000 new jobs,
  • on-site career and technical training programs, and
  • business opportunities for suppliers in West Tennessee, including Memphis. 

Ford will invest $5.6 billion in the high-tech campus slated to open in 2025.

Both rural and urban West Tennesseans will benefit from billions in annual economic growth the plant will generate.

“Memphis could become the next Atlanta,” said District 93 State Rep. G.A. Hardaway.

“The plant will boost West Tennessee and provides an excellent opportunity to maximize diversity in its construction, business-to-business contracts and employment. 

“Good things come to those who wait,” said Gov. Bill Lee, who was in Memphis Tuesday for Ford’s major announcement at Shelby Farms.

“Ford could go anywhere in the world, but chose to call Tennessee ‘home.’” 

Pictured (l-r): Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO; Gov. Bill Lee and TVA CEO Jeff Lyash. (Courtesy Photo)

Lee offered Ford $500 million in incentives to finalize the factory in Tennessee.

“Our commitment to skilled trades through career and technical education gave Tennessee a clear advantage over all other possibilities on the globe.”

Tennessee College of Applied Technology will provide training in building and repairing electric vehicles (EVs) and the batteries that power them. 

Lee was joined by Bill Ford, executive chair, Ford Motor Co., Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO, and Bob Rolfe, commissioner, TN Dept. of Economic and Community Development. 

Beverly Robertson, president and CEO, Greater Memphis Chamber, said Ford’s “monumental investment” would not have been possible without partners. (Courtesy photo)

Beverly Robertson, president and CEO, Greater Memphis Chamber, opened the press event.

Rolfe said the factory will “change the landscape of West Tennessee,” generating 33,000 construction jobs with a $1.8 billion payroll, followed by 27,000 direct and indirect jobs, producing a $1.8 billion annual payroll. 

Ford’s first electric vehicle – the 2022 F-150 Lightning truck – is sold out, said Farley.

President Joe Biden test drove the model in May, capturing broad public interest. 

Future F-series trucks and batteries will be built at the Tennessee plant named Blue Oval City, hinting at its proximity to Memphis and its music legacy.

Salaries ranges were not disclosed, but good paying jobs are certain.

Elder Memphians understand the benefits a major factory can offer.

From 1948 to 1983, International Harvester, a tractor manufacturer in the Frayser community, helped numerous households reach median incomes, allowing them to buy homes and have better lives. 

Blue Oval City will do no less. 

Environmentally safe manufacturing

 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the state’s electric provider, will lead the plant’s power build-out.

Blue Oval City will operate under a sustainable eco-system, using solar power and other green energy sources to run, creating a carbon-neutral facility. 

By reducing the release of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, negative impacts to human health and the environment are prevented.

“Reliable, low-cost, clean energy gives world-class companies like Ford a reason to locate in the Tennessee Valley,” said TVA CEO Jeff Lyash.

TVA is a founding member of the National Electric Highway Coalition – an alliance of 14 nationwide utility providers enabling long-distance EV travel through fast charging stations on major highways. 

“TVA is taking a leadership role in EV technology.”

Employee transportation obstacles

The New Tri-State Defender inquired about possible barriers for potential employees who want jobs at Blue Oval City, but do not own adequate transportation.

Having no car or an unreliable vehicle is common among low-income citizens in Memphis and rural areas.

Robertson said, over the last 18 months, a transportation plan has been considered.

“Now that we’ve got something on the Megasite, we’ll have to accelerate our efforts and maybe work in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to see if there’s an opportunity for a partnership that will allow us to do some things to ensure people can get there (to work).”

“That’s the only way people will be able to keep their jobs.”

Advocating for West Tennessee

Ford is the fourth auto plant to enter Tennessee, joining Nissan (Smyrna), Volkswagen (Chattanooga) and General Motors (Spring Hill). 

Partners behind Blue Oval City include: Ford Motor Co., State of Tennessee, SK Innovation (a battery manufacturer in South Korea), TVA, Greater Memphis Chamber, Jackson, TN, Chamber of Commerce and West Tennessee public officials.

“None of this would have been possible without our partners,” said Robertson. 

“I’m elated about this monumental investment.”