Tennessee Approves $ 884 Million in Funding, Creates Board of Directors for $ 6 Billion Ford Project

The Tennessee Legislature ended its special session on Ford’s $ 5.6 billion electric truck project on Wednesday by approving $ 884 million in spending and the creation of a Megasite Authority of West Tennessee board of directors to oversee operations.

“This is the largest economic investment in rural Tennessee history,” Governor Bill Lee said. “… More importantly, this is a victory for the West Tennessee squad.”

The biggest sticking point between the Senate and the House came down to the number of members who would sit on the board.

The Senate finally agreed with the House amendment make the board of directors 11 members, including Governor Bill Lee, the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, the Commissioner of Finance and Administration and the Commissioner of General Services.

The other seven members will be appointed by the Governor (two), the Speaker of the House (two), the Speaker of the Senate (two) and one jointly appointed by the two Presidents.

Both bills enjoyed bipartisan support.

“This is such an important day, not just for western Tennessee but for all of Tennessee,” said Senator Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis. “… This project has the potential to change not only lives, but generations.

“It’s an American vehicle that will become my Americans in Tennessee.”

Ford is expected to begin work immediately on the project, which encompasses 3,600 acres of the 4,100-acre Memphis mega site that will house Ford’s F-series electric trucks and SK Innovation battery manufacturing.

Appointed board members will receive $ 2,000 per month for the first three years of the board and serve four-year terms. An early version of the bill provided for seven unpaid board members to be reimbursed for travel expenses.

Expenses invoice includes the previously announced $ 500 million incentive for Ford related to the completion of the project, as well as $ 138.2 million to the Memphis Regional Megasite for infrastructure, structural demolition and more. Funding for the project will come from the state’s $ 2 billion in reserves, said Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson.

Watson said the $ 500 million incentive will be paid as Ford submits expenses related to the project. Ford will have the option of owning the 3,600 acres after 10 years and would then be required to pay local property taxes on the state-owned site.

“We do recoupment if a company does not keep its commitment,” said Watson, noting that Ford will have to meet its commitments related to the number of jobs created at the site. “There is nothing special except that we are creating an incredible economic opportunity for a part of the state that has not had these economic opportunities.”

An additional $ 40 million would be spent on building the Tennessee College of Applied Technology campus on the megasite. The spending bill also provides $ 200 million for the construction of National Highway 194 between SR 59 and SR 1, as well as an interchange to Interstate 40 and a connecting road to SR 222. .

Another $ 5 million will be set aside for consulting services for local governments and legal services for the authority. An additional $ 728,000 would go towards the establishment of the Megasite Authority of West Tennessee to pay its COO, offices and costs.

“We are transforming the landscape of western Tennessee and truly as a state as a whole,” said Representative Karen D. Camper, D-Memphis. “People from all corners of this state have worked hard to make this a reality. “

Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee director Tori Venable was less enthusiastic.

“While this is a historic investment in West Tennessee and a solution to a decades-long chasm for state funding, we will always stand on principle,” said Venable. “We continue to oppose government picking winners and losers in business by donating Tennessean’s hard-earned tax dollars to politically connected companies.

“We have all heard the promises of payback if a company does not live up to its end of the bargain when it comes to job creation or investment. The public cannot rely on accountability without full transparency for these taxpayer funded agreements. “

Senators who voted against the bills were Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma; Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald; Mark Pody, R-Lebanon; and Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield. Representatives who voted against the bill were Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka; Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro; and Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster.

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Original author: Jon Styf | The central square

Original location: Tennessee Approves $ 884 Million in Funding, Creates Board of Directors for $ 6 Billion Ford Project

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