Four names have been confirmed for the new board of directors of the Megasite Authority of West Tennessee, a body tasked with overseeing Ford’s $ 5.6 billion project in Haywood County.
The latest appointments include Brownsville attorney Michael Banks and Evelyn Robertson, former director of the Southwestern Tennessee Development District. Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally announced the appointments on November 19.
âThe Megasite Authority (of western Tennessee) has enormous powers given to it by law,â Banks said. âWe have to make sure that the Authority concludes the deal for Ford. But we must keep in mind the impact that any decision made by the Megasite Authority will have on the Town of Stanton, County of Haywood and Brownsville and, for that matter, the small municipalities of Tipton and County of Fayette. also.
Megasite Authority:Governor Bill Lee announces CEO of Megasite Authority of West Tennessee
Eleven members will govern the Megasite Authority of West Tennessee, up from seven originally proposed. They include the ex-officio governor, two persons appointed by the governor, two by the speaker of the House, two by the lieutenant governor, one person jointly appointed by the two presidents and the commissioners for economic and community development, finance and administration and general services. . These commissioners could also appoint someone in their place.
Legislation passed at the special session in Nashville in October resulted in the formation of authority. The purpose of the megasite authority is to âdevelop, operate, manage, induce and promote megasiteâ, depending on the state.
“Ford Motor Company’s historic investment in western Tennessee will bring much needed prosperity to a region that has been left behind,” McNally said in a statement announcing the appointments of Banks and Robertson. âThe Megasite of West Tennessee Board of Directors will be critical to the future of Megasite and West Tennessee. I am confident that these highly qualified individuals will bring great experience and perspective to the board. “
At the end of September, Ford officials announced plans, along with South Korean firm SK Innovation, for a $ 5.6 billion project to produce electric trucks and electric vehicle batteries on the megasite. The project could create about 5,800 jobs, and local and state officials believe it could transform the western Tennessee region.
Construction on the project, called Blue Oval City, could begin in 2022, project manager Greg Christensen told The Commercial Appeal. Christensen is the director of Ford’s electric vehicle footprint.
Ford plans to open the plant in 2025.
In October, the Tennessee legislature voted in favor of an $ 884 million incentive package for Ford at the same special session in Nashville where it passed legislation creating the Megasite Authority.
As of Friday, there had been four appointments to the Megasite Authority, as well as a CEO of the authority. Lee chose Tennessee Department of Transportation commissioner Clay Bright as CEO of the Megasite Authority. Bright has since stepped down from his role at TDOT, to which he was appointed in 2019.
Previous appointees to the board include Charlie Tuggle, executive vice president and general counsel for First Horizon National Corp., and Tipton County Mayor Jeff Huffman.
âYou can throw the industrial development playbook out the window on this one,â Huffman said of what lies ahead. “There has never been anything like it in a place like this.”
Banks is the first person appointed by the Megasite Authority to reside in Haywood County, where Project Ford is located. In addition to the Banks law firm, he is an attorney for the Town of Brownsville, the Town of Stanton and the County of Haywood.
He appreciates what the project could mean for western Tennessee, but also recognizes that the region will never be the same again.
âWe have a tremendous amount of work, strategizing and thinking that is now going to have to happenâ¦ To our credit, we are doing it,â Banks said. “It’s just a lot of things that come into play.”
The Tennessean contributed to the reporting of this story.
Omer Yusuf covers the Ford Project in Haywood County, residential real estate and tourism for The Commercial Appeal. He can be contacted by email [email protected] or follow on Twitter @OmerAYusuf.
West Tennessee Megasite Authority
Former TDOT Commissioner Shiny Clay was appointed CEO of Megasite Authority.
Four appointments have been made to the Board of Directors to date. They are:
Mayor of Tipton County Jeff huffman, was mayor for over 35 years
Lawyer Bank Law Firm Michael banks, lawyer based in Brownsville
Charlie tuggle, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of First Horizon
Evelyne robertson, former director of the Southwestern Tennessee Development District