NASHVILLE — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday that the state will pour $52 million into building a complicated wastewater discharge pipeline into a sprawling site that has failed to land potential tenants due to a lack of infrastructure buildout.
The Memphis Regional Megasite, located about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of downtown Memphis, has already received more than $170 million in state funding. However, state officials have long warned that more money is needed to make the nearly 6.5 square miles (17 square kilometers) attractive enough for prospective investors.
Officials say construction on the wastewater pipeline project likely won’t start until next year.
“I have directed the Department of Economic and Community Development to aggressively market the Megasite and offer enhanced incentives to companies demonstrating a long-term desire to call Haywood County home,” Lee said in a statement.
“Key criteria are just that — they are key to the prospect and necessary for selection. Fixing one will not resolve the deficiency,” the report stated.
“Overcoming issues related to proximity and quality of life are more challenging areas to address,” the report added. “For this reason, economic development organizations typically assemble sites within driving distance of a major metropolitan areas with attractive quality of life scores.”
According to economic development officials, the megasite’s 4,100 acres (1,660 hectares) would be enough to include the combined footprints of several of the state’s largest plants, including the 715-acre (290-hectare) Nissan complex in Smyrna, the 352-acre (140-hectare) Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga and the 469-acre (190-hectare) Hankook Tire plant in Clarksville.
In 2017, the site failed to land a new auto plant planned by a joint venture of Toyota and Mazda. A year prior, the Tennessee site was one of two finalists when Sentury Tire Americas was looking to build a $530 million plant. The company ultimately chose a site in Georgia.