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Grant program rolls out as Ford moves to funnel Blue Oval benefits

Social and economic mobility – along with “general community betterment” – form the underpinning for the $1M capital grant program that the Ford Motor Company Fund has rolled out for West Tennessee nonprofits.

The Ford Motor Company Fund is the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, which has embarked on the largest investment in the history of West Tennessee with Ford BlueOval City – a plant that will produce electric vehicles and advanced batteries for Ford F-150 trucks and Lincoln vehicles.

Mike Schmidt

“Community has always come first for Ford, and we are staying true to our legacy of giving back by investing in our new Tennessee neighbors,” said Mike Schmidt, director of Programs at Ford Motor Company Fund.

“Our goal is to ensure that the communities where we build benefit from the investments we’re making and the jobs that Ford and SK On (a South Korean-based EV battery maker) are creating.”

Since the September 2021 unveiling of plans for Ford BlueOval City, much of West Tennessee – namely Haywood, Fayette, Tipton, Lauderdale, Shelby, and Madison counties – has been repositioning to benefit from the expected economic growth and development.

The capital grants announced this week will target physical infrastructures such as playgrounds and the construction of new or renovated spaces. United Way of West Tennessee will serve as a fiscal sponsor for municipalities and organizations that are not tax-exempt.

Matthew Marshall

“I believe I speak for all West Tennesseans in stating the excitement our community feels for the coming Ford BlueOval City,” said Matthew Marshall, president and CEO of United Way of West Tennessee.

“As the largest single industry investment in the history of our state, it will have a profound impact on our region. But, there is so much work to be done between now and the time those all-new, electric F-150s roll off the assembly line”

(Photo: Paula Anderson, Ford BlueOval City — Jackson Meeting at Jackson Fairgrounds, Oct. 20, 2022.)

Ford BlueOval City is projected to bring approximately 6,000 jobs, with an investment of $5.6B to West Tennessee.

“So, United Way is excited to partner with the Ford Fund as they make this $1 million investment to support improvements to the infrastructure of the communities surrounding Ford BlueOval City,” said Marshall. “This investment will build equity and create economic opportunities, which in turn will open pathways to education and high-quality jobs. …

“Ford, like United Way, has a history of working with communities, for communities. Together, we will ensure that West TN continues to go further.”

Grant applications are due by Feb. 2, 2023. To apply, organizations should visit https://fordfund.org/TNcapitalgrants.

Grant awardees will be notified in April 2023.

Non-tax-exempt municipalities and organizations are encouraged to contact United Way by email: at Give@UnitedWay.TN.org, with the subject line “Ford Fund Capital Grant.”

(Paula Anderson is a freelance business journalist. Contact her at writingbydesign7@gmail.com.)


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