Ford’s Blue Oval City subject of the Memphis conference

Construction of Ford’s $5.6 billion Blue Oval City project is set to begin later this year. In the meantime, one organization is hosting a conference in Memphis this week to allow regional leaders to learn from other communities that have experienced similar transformational projects.

the Association of Memphis Area Governments hosts “The West Tennessee Megasite/Blue Oval City Next Steps” conference from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Halloran Center. The event will be in person and virtual. The Kudzukian Network will broadcast the conference on its Facebook and YouTube platforms.

Notable speakers include Huntsville, Alabama Mayor Thomas Battle Jr. and Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly. In 2018, Toyota-Mazda announced plans to invest more than $2.3 billion and create 4,000 jobs for a factory in Huntsville, moving to the Memphis regional megasite. Chattanooga secured the Volkswagen plant that opened in 2011, a $1 billion investment that created about 3,800 new jobs.

“It’s very important to have someone who’s been on the hot sands to say that’s what we’ve been through,” said Ralph Moore, CEO of the Memphis Area Association of Governments. “This is where we had to catch up. We didn’t have enough sewer capacity. We had flooded areas of wetlands. There are just a few things that no city plans to have until they are forced to have it. Better to have it early in the game than when the factory Ford comes here and you find out you don’t have it.

After years of rejection from potential megasite tenants, Ford officials, along with South Korean firm SK innovation, announced plans in September for a $5.6 billion project to produce trucks electric vehicles and electric vehicle batteries at a 4,100 acre site in Stanton. The project is expected to create approximately 5,800 jobs.

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Work at the Blue Oval City site is expected to begin this month with on-site production expected to begin in 2025.

Key issues expected to be raised at this week’s conference include preparedness to handle the growth of a project of this magnitude, workforce development, and infrastructure, particularly sewers.

“You’re going to have to think about having a formal plan that guides you to not only preserve what you have, but to improve it and not allow growth to overwhelm you or your services or your ability to provide services. “Moore said.

In-person seating is limited to 50 people. To RSVP for in-person or virtual participation, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/272478198627.

Omer Yusuf covers the Ford Project in Haywood County, residential real estate, tourism and banking for The Commercial Appeal. He can be contacted by email. Omer.Yusuf@commercialappeal.com or follow on Twitter @OmerAYusuf.

Jessica C. Bell