A special session of the Tennessee General Assembly closed on Wednesday after lawmakers approved legislation addressing funding and oversight of Ford Motor Company’s historic $5.6 billion investment at the state’s Megasite in West Tennessee. Ford and SK Innovation are set to build a 3,600-acre mega campus called “Blue Oval City” where production of next generation all-electric F Series trucks will begin in 2025.
Tennessee claims nearly 40 percent of the Southeast’s electric vehicle manufacturing jobs and investment, with more than $11.9 billion invested by companies in Tennessee’s electric vehicle industry. More than 15,000 electric vehicles are produced in the state each year, ranking Tennessee No. 1 in the Southeast for electric vehicle manufacturing.
The Center for Economic Research projects Blue Oval City will generate 27,000 new jobs to support the Megasite’s operation, including direct, indirect and induced new jobs. This will have a substantial long-term economic impact on Tennessee, with an anticipated $1.02 billion in annual earning, $3.5 billion each year added to the gross state product, and $22.4 million annually in state tax revenues. In addition, the construction of the company’s facility in Haywood County will bring in about $178.9 million in state sales and use tax collections.
The impact on the West Tennessee region will be transformative, beginning with the construction phase. Approximately $1.87 billion in total earnings are related to the multi-year construction activity. It is expected to generate 33,000 temporary direct or indirect jobs supporting the construction period, providing a major boost to the economy.
Senate Bill 8002 provides a $500 million capital grant to incentivize and complete the Megasite. This is a reimbursement grant which ensures the company will complete their jobs commitment. Funding provided will cover infrastructure and improvements to support regional growth, including $40 million to build a new Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) on the Megasite to strengthen Tennessee’s workforce. In addition, the state will build, own and operate water and wastewater systems to serve the Megasite and locate a second interchange on I-40 to improve traffic flow and support population growth in the area.
Senate Bill 8001 will create the Megasite Authority of West Tennessee to provide the services necessary for the operation and development of the Megasite. The Authority, which will be governed by an eleven-member board of directors, will develop, operate, manage, incentivize and promote the Megasite. The authority will oversee the remaining unused 500 acres and continue to promote economic development on the site.
In other major news this week, Republican members of the Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives formally issued a call for the third extraordinary session of the 112th General Assembly in accordance with Article 2, Section 8 of the Tennessee Constitution. The session, which is set for October 27, will cover a number of issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including overreaching health care mandates.
The special session will consider legislative action related to vaccines, masks, and other restrictions relative to COVID-19, including measures to address the various unconstitutional federal mandates issued by the Biden administration. President Biden is using the full force of his presidency to mandate two-thirds of American workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 through an emergency Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule. This includes requiring private employers with more than 100 workers to require vaccination or COVID-19 tests. Health care workers, federal contractors and the vast majority of federal workers are also required to be vaccinated under Biden’s mandate or face losing their job.
Additionally, consideration of legislation regarding the independent health departments and restrictions on monoclonal antibodies will also be appropriate under the call. In September, the Biden administration announced intentions to impose new limits to access COVID-19 antibody treatments amid demand in southern states where vaccine rates were lower.