Capitol Hill Review: Extraordinary Session
The House and Senate chambers on Wednesday concluded a historic extraordinary session of the Tennessee General Assembly that paves the way for the single-largest economic development investment in state history. Ford Motor Company and SK Innovations announced plans in September to invest $5.6 billion to build a 3,600-acre campus that will be called Blue Oval City at the Memphis Regional Megasite in Haywood County. Blue Oval City will be designed to be the largest, most advanced, and most efficient automobile production facility in Ford Motor Company’s history.
The project will create nearly 6,000 new jobs in West Tennessee, while another 27,000 jobs are predicted to impact the region both directly and indirectly to support the sites outside their operations. The overall investment will have a generational impact on the entire state, solidifying Tennessee’s standing as a global automotive powerhouse.
Tennessee will lead the nation’s transition to electric automobiles with four major automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEM), 920 automotive suppliers in 88 counties that employ 140,000 Tennesseans.
The Volunteer State is already No. 1 in the Southeast for electric vehicle manufacturing with approximately 15,000 electric vehicles produced in our state each year. The Blue Oval City Megasite will introduce more environmentally friendly, sustainable, and carbon-neutral manufacturing.
In partnership with Blue Oval City, the Tennessee General Assembly has committed $40 million to build a Tennessee College of Applied Science on site that will provide customized training developed in conjunction with Ford and SK Innovation. Training will focus on electric vehicle manufacturing with a curriculum concentrating on mechatronics engineering and auto mechanics.
General Assembly passes two bills giving final approval for the Megasite investment and development
1. Megasite Development. House Bill 8001 creates the Megasite Authority of West Tennessee to provide services necessary for the operation and development of the Megasite. Key highlights of the Authority include:
The purpose of the Authority is to develop, operate, manage, incentivize and promote the Megasite
Authority actions like entering leases, capital grants and accountability agreements will be subject to approval by the State Building Commission, providing opportunities for public engagement
The Authority will be governed by an 11-member board of directors, which includes two gubernatorial appointments. The governor will sit on the board as an ex-officio member.
2. Investing in Infrastructure and Workforce. House Bill 8002 approves appropriations to incentivize and complete the Megasite. Additional funding will provide for infrastructure and improvements to support regional growth including:
$500 million capital grant (ECD)
State to build, own and operate $40 million TCAT to strengthen Tennessee’s workforce (TBR)
State to build, own and operate water and wastewater systems to serve the Megasite (DGS)
State to build the second interchange on I-40 to improve traffic flow and support population growth (TDOT)
Ford Motor Company in Tennessee
Ford Motor Company has already established a presence in Tennessee. Currently, Ford Credit’s Nashville Business Center employs nearly 800 people. Ford also operates a parts, supply, and logistics distribution center in Memphis that employs about 150 people. The company has 65 dealerships with 3,600 employees throughout the state.
The Megasite is expected to generate 27,000 new jobs to support operations, including direct, indirect, and induced new jobs. This will result in $1.02 billion in annual earnings.
The site will contribute $3.5 billion each year to Tennessee’s gross state product and provide $22.4 million each year in state tax revenue.
Remembering The Honorable Jim Coley
The House of Representatives this week sponsored HJR 8009, a resolution honoring the life and service of former State Representative Jim Coley who passed away October 10. Coley served District 97 during the 105th-111th General Assemblies. He was known for his efforts in the fight to end human trafficking in Tennessee by sponsoring numerous bills on the issue. Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed the Jim Coley Protection for Rape Survivors Act to honor their friend and colleague. Jim Coley leaves behind a legacy of integrity as a public servant, father, and husband.
House Speaker Sexton and Lt. Governor McNally call for an extraordinary session
The House and Senate chambers this week formally issued a call for a third extraordinary session of the 112th General Assembly; it will cover a number of issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic, including overreaching health care mandates. Signed by more than two-thirds of the members of both chambers, the call will bring both the House and the Senate back into session on Oct. 27 at 4 p.m. The call will allow legislation related to vaccines, masks, and other restrictions relative to the pandemic. Legislation to address the various unconstitutional federal mandates issued by the Biden Administration would also meet the call guidelines. Additionally, measures regarding the state’s six independent health departments and restrictions on monoclonal antibodies would also be appropriate under the call.
Kelly Keisling serves as State Representative for House District 38 which encompasses Macon, Clay, Pickett, Scott, and part of Fentress Counties.