Last week at Rotary our speaker, District 6761 Governor Dr. Michael J. Babb, M.D., spoke about the ripple effects of our actions. He spoke most notably about the ripple effects of kindness, but I was reminded of his speech when I realize in Tipton County we’ll soon see the ripple effects of the largest industrial investment the state has ever seen.
On Tuesday, the Ford Motor Company announced an historic investment at the Memphis Regional Megasite in the form of a $5.6 billion plant which will manufacture electric vehicles and batteries. It’s the biggest investment Ford has ever made – and it’s such a big deal that news of the announcement was leaked and made national headlines before the announcement itself could be made.
It’s incredible when you know you’re sitting on the precipice of change.
For all of us, that is right now.
Sometimes I want to fast forward a decade or two to see how things turn out, but for now we can only make educated guesses about the way this will affect our economy, homebuilding, the population, and the future.
What they’re calling Blue Oval City will bring nearly 6,000 jobs once completed, but construction is expected to employ an estimated 27,000 people. We’ll see other companies and industries – Ford suppliers – move in in the years to follow, people we never dreamed would locate in this area. And there will be a ripple of other businesses pop up, too, to meet the needs of the people working and living nearby, businesses like coffee shops, fast food and sit-down restaurants, gas stations, big box stores, and even locally-based shops.
Those who aren’t local will move to the area, their partners will go to work here, their children will go to school here. We’ll need better infrastructure for the homes that will need to be built, better roadways and different roadways to take people to and from Brownsville more efficiently, more shopping, more places to eat, more churches for Sunday worship.
We’ll need more of everything, from educators to public safety and medical personnel, homebuilders, road crews, public works crews, restaurant workers, and everything else needed and wanted to accommodate the workforce expected.
Haywood County, where the megasite is located, will benefit most from the plant, but all southwest Tennessee counties are expected to thrive once plans begin coming to fruition.
Mason is the closest Tipton County city to the megasite and the new plant could breathe new life into a dying town that desperately needs revitalization. We could have large numbers of people living in the east side of Hwy. 14 for the first time. And we will see more people move into our other cities and towns, frequenting the square, learning at Dyersburg State Community College and the Tennessee College of Applied Science in Covington (though there will be a located at megasite, too), and more.
Our children can go to work for a company currently working to revolutionize its industry, just as it did under Henry Ford, and won’t have to leave to find great jobs.
Imagine the possibilities this will bring.
In a conversation Tuesday evening Covington Mayor Justin Hanson reported a Fayette County mayor said he believed time would now be measured “before Ford” and “after Ford” in West Tennessee.
“That’s how big this thing is,” Hanson added. “It’s going to change our landscape forever.”
It is a huge deal – a big win for Tennessee and a big win for the local economies.
Its ripple will be felt for generations to come, longer than we even comprehend.