TML working with state leadership on Blue Oval info sessions

Blue Oval City
Ford's envisioning of how the Blue Oval City development in Stanton will come together

By KATE COIL

TML Communications Specialist

TML leadership is working with state economic development officials and the Tennessee County Services Association to address concerns and issues about the major changes being brought to West Tennessee and the state at large by the new Blue Oval City development.

TML Deputy Director Chad Jenkins has been meeting with TNECD Assistant Commissioner Brooxie Carlton and David Connor, executive director of TCSA, to help create a series of informational sessions to respond to questions and issues relating to Ford, SK Innovation, and other suppliers who will be working on the new, massive electric battery facility to be located in Stanton.

Ford announced plans for the $5.6 billion electric vehicle battery production facility and accompanying battery recycling facility at the 4,100-acre West Tennessee Megasite in September. The manufacturing site is expected to be operational in 2025.

Jenkins said the upcoming meetings will address a variety of issues already being raised by local leaders.

“The topics to be covered are based on a survey of local officials and reflect the priorities identified by the officials,” he said. “ECD will distribute information concerning the meeting format, program, dates, times and locations to local officials. Some meetings will be in person, others will be held virtually.”

The overall goal of these meetings is to bring local government officials together with state officials, experts, and others to start planning ahead for how the project will impact their communities.

Blue Oval City“The thought is this will allow local officials to hear from subject matter experts on identified issues," Jenkins said. "It will allow them to talk to local leaders on the other side of an incorporation of automotive facilities within their communities and to hear about their experiences and solicit their advice.  Some meetings will feature state departments and agencies, and what services and assistance is available, as well as update local officials on current plans for facility and surrounding communities. Finally, this will serve as a chance for local leaders to come together to share ideas, identify best practices and better coordinate activities and actions. We hope it will serve as a forum for communicating local wishes and concerns.” 

The largest economic development investment in state history, Blue Oval City will no doubt bring changes for West Tennessee municipalities. By taking a proactive approach to planning for this project, cities can help mitigate anticipated growing pains and navigate challenges in ways that will best serve their communities.

“We’ve talked about this being a transformational opportunity,” Jenkins said. “Inherent in transformation of this magnitude is significant change.”  

He explained that for local officials, it begins with the basics, including:

  • planning and adopting appropriate land use policies and ordinances in preparation for anticipated new residential and commercial development;
  • locating and making ready industrial areas;
  • planning for the provisions of essential services such as water, wastewater, electricity and public safety to accommodate additional residents and businesses;
  • evaluation of accessibility, connectivity, safety and condition of existing roads and streets and transportation infrastructure; and
  • evaluating the impact on local school system.

The first in a series of Tennessee Department of Economic Development meetings on issues of interest to local officials in the communities surrounding the Ford-SK facility will be held Jan. 26 at 10:00 a.m. This meeting will be a virtual meeting and feature a presentation by TDEC Deputy Commissioner Greg Young and a discussion of regional water and wastewater opportunities. The next two meetings in the series will be held on Feb. 9 and Feb. 23.

In addition to the meetings with state officials, TML is also working with the Kentucky League of Cities to host a joint meeting of local officials from the Blue Oval and Ford facilities in Kentucky and Tennessee tentatively scheduled for March.