The state of Tennessee is hoping to hire a consultant by January for help in overseeing and promoting the Memphis Regional Megasite that is still without a major manufacturer more than 10 years after planning for the project began.
The state is asking for $2 million to hire the consultant and make various infrastructure improvements, reports Nashville Public Radio.
Toyota and Mazda passed on the site last week for a new auto manufacturing plant because it wasn’t shovel-ready. U.S. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-6), who is running for governor, issued a statement calling the decision “a tremendous, inexcusable loss for our state.”
The consultant hired by the state Department of Economic and Community Development would provide ongoing technical expertise on an as-needed basis, according to state documents. Responsibilities would include developing a site management plan, assisting with tenant negotiations and coordination of utility, transportation and railroad services, and communicating with stakeholders.
Nashville Public Radio reported that the decision to hire a consultant was made before Toyota-Mazda eliminated the West Tennessee site from consideration. Another unnamed company also passed on the site in recent weeks. Other firms have also turned down the site over the years.
The megasite includes 4,100 acres of land off Interstate 40 in Haywood and Fayette counties between Memphis and Jackson. The state has spent $140 million on developing the property. Planning began in 2005 and construction began in 2009.
State officials have yet to finalize a plan for removing wastewater and are currently looking at treating it on site and pumping it 35 miles to the Mississippi River.
The state is hoping to have at least one signed contract for the megasite by the time Gov. Bill Haslam leaves office in 2019.