State Building Commission Doubles the Budget for West Tennessee Megasite

Members of the Tennessee State Building Commission last week approved a budget that more than doubles the amount for infrastructure improvements at the Megasite of West Tennessee.

State Building Commission members and the State Building Commission’s staff did not return The Tennessee Star’s requests for comment Monday.

Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) serves on the Building Commission, according to the Office of the State Architect’s website.

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Tennessee Approves $884M in Funding, Creates Board for $6B Ford Project

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

“This is the largest single economic investment in rural Tennessee’s history,” Gov. Bill Lee said. “… It is, most importantly, a win for western Tennessee’s workforce.”

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Memphis Regional Megasite Reportedly Three Years Away

The Memphis Regional Megasite, which has already cost Tennessee taxpayers more than $140 million is reportedly three years away from completion, according to The Jackson Sun. Justin Owen, president of The Beacon Center of Tennessee, a Nashville-based free market think tank, previously called the megasite “an empty field of broken promises.” This, Owen said, despite “big talk by state officials” to bring thousands of jobs to a downtrodden area. The Jackson Sun quoted Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe as saying the eminent domain process will take several more months. The wastewater pipeline process, meanwhile, will take 18 to 24 months, the paper quoted Rolfe as saying. “The largest hurdles facing the Megasite right now are the approval of permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and using the eminent domain process in order to lay the wastewater pipeline,” according to The Jackson Sun. According to the paper, the ECD has hired the consulting firm Gresham Smith “to determine what company would be best for managing the utilities on site.” Gresham Smith has received roughly $500,000, the paper said. Quoting TNECD Deputy Commissioner of Business Community and Rural Development Allen Borden, The Jackson Sun said the site will…

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Karl Dean Promises More Taxpayer Money for Memphis

Karl Dean

If Tennessee Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean gets elected governor then he’ll invest more state taxpayer dollars in Memphis and the west Tennessee region. Dean made this promise while touring Memphis this week. This, even though leaders in that corner of the state don’t get much when they invest local taxpayer money in projects meant to attract new business. According to the Memphis Daily News, Dean wants the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to set up an office in Memphis. There he said he will use state resources to focus on boosting women-and minority-owned businesses. “Dean is ‘very specific’ about building economic opportunities for women and ethnic groups, which he could do through executive order or legislative initiatives,” according to the paper. Dean, the paper went on, wants to do that by improving procurement programs to make it easier for women and minorities to compete for contracts. He also wants to recruit businesses to the Memphis Regional Megasite in Haywood County. In an opinion column last year, Beacon Center of Tennessee President Justin Owen said state officials have spent more than $140 million in taxpayer money to buy and develop the site to attract a large manufacturer to…

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Diane Black Challenges Memphis Regional Megasite

Diane Black is taking on a sprawling West Tennessee industrial site that includes a 35-mile-long wastewater pipeline. The Republican gubernatorial candidate blasted the Memphis Regional Megasite in an op-ed that appeared in the April 25 Commercial Appeal. The state government has left West Tennessee “behind” through neglect, she wrote. “Infrastructure is a big part of that,” Black wrote. “It is hugely important both to Memphis and to rural West Tennessee. I’ve spoken with representatives from the Trump Administration and my congressional colleagues about finishing I-69 and I-22. These projects are almost complete, they simply require a governor committed to getting it done. “I will continue to work with the President and Vice President to make sure West Tennessee gets the federal infrastructure dollars it needs to complete road projects and bring broadband to rural counties.” The megasite consists of 4,100 acres of industrial real estate, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development website. Black calls the megasite a “boondoggle” 13 years in the making that has cost $140 million and needs an additional $100 million and still is a few years from having completed infrastructure. The wastewater pipeline will cost at least $75 million, she said, and some estimate the…

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Tennessee ECD Commissioner: Memphis Regional Megasite Will Need A Total of $220 Million To Be ‘Shovel Ready’

At the invitation of Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville), Tennessee Economic and Community Development (ECD) Commissioner Rob Rolfe presented at this year’s first meeting of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on the topic of the Memphis Regional Megasite and told the committee that it will take $220 million to get the site “shovel ready.” Commissioner Rolfe reported, without any specifics, that thus far appropriations for the Memphis Regional Megasite, which he said is used interchangeably with “MRM” and “megasite,” have been $143,650,000, of which $87,253,000 has been spent to date. Additional funding required to get the megasite shovel ready is estimated at $80 million, the majority of which will be allocated for wastewater. Senator Green invited the Department of Economic and Community Development to testify before the committee, because, “After meeting with many elected officials in West Tennessee, I’ve heard repeated concerns about the progress of the megasite. I’m pleased ECD will be making a presentation before our committee to address those concerns,” according to a press release by the senator, who also serves as the committee’s vice chairman. Green was one of the attendees of the 8th Annual Southwest Tennessee Development District Legislative Luncheon held in early January, where…

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Republican and Democrat Gubernatorial Candidates Weigh In On The Need For An Additional $72 Million For Memphis Regional Megasite Infrastructure

At the eighth annual South West Tennessee Development District (SWTDD) Legislative Luncheon held January 3, one of the topics discussed by the gubernatorial candidates in attendance is the need for an additional $72 million to address infrastructure at the Memphis Regional Megasite. The Memphis Regional Megasite is a 4,100-acre state-owned manufacturing site located between Jackson and Memphis off I-40. The site was acquired by the state in 2009 according to the Tennessee Economic and Community Development (TNECD) website, has had investments of more than $106 million, although other reports indicate tax payer investments of as much as $144 million. TNECD Commissioner, Bob Rolfe, named to the position on February 16, 2017, following the departure of former TNECD Commissioner turned gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd, recently said another $72 million would be needed to complete infrastructure projects that would make the site “shovel ready.” Five gubernatorial candidates were represented at the SWTDD luncheon: Republicans Mae Beavers, Diane Black and Bill Lee as well as Democrat Craig Fitzhugh and Karl Dean’s campaign manager, Courtney Wheeler. Republican candidates Randy Boyd, Beth Harwell and Kay White did not attend. Four of the five candidates agreed that the $72 million additional investment needs to be made.…

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Tennessee Officials to Hire Consultant to Help with Memphis Regional Megasite

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…

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Diane Black Campaign Says ‘Losing Toyota-Mazda Is a Tremendous, Inexcusable Loss for Our State’

Last week, officials with Toyota and Mazda announced that they have eliminated the state-funded Memphis regional “Megasite” from consideration for a new automobile manufacturing facility. The gubernatorial campaign of Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06) quickly issued a statement stating “Losing Toyota-Mazda is a tremendous, inexcusable loss for our state.” You can read the full statement here: The Diane Black for Governor campaign today reacted to the disappointing news that Toyota-Mazda has eliminated the Memphis Regional Megasite (formerly known as the West Tennessee Megasite) from consideration for its new plant. Tennessee’s Economic and Community Development Commissioner confirmed that the megasite was removed from consideration because it was not “shovel-ready.” The state purchased the land for the megasite in 2009 and taxpayers have invested $140 million thus far in preparing it for a tenant. Diane Black for Governor Communications Director, Chris Hartline, made the following statement: “Some may campaign on making Tennessee a business-friendly state, but they are overlooking their failures to make Tennessee a business-ready state. The state has had years to make the Memphis Regional Megasite ‘shovel ready,’ and has come up short once again. Losing Toyota-Mazda is a tremendous, inexcusable loss for our state. We have to take action and…

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West Tennessee Site Likely to be Considered for New Toyota-Mazda Auto Plant

  A site near Memphis will likely be considered for a new auto manufacturing plant to be built jointly by Toyota and Mazda. The plant will create up to 4,000 jobs, according to a news release issued by the Japanese car companies on Friday. They plan to spend $1.6 billion on the plant, with the goal of starting operations in 2021 pending government approvals. The plant will produce about 300,000 vehicles a year, and will make Toyota Corollas and crossover models that Mazda plans to introduce to the North American market. The news release did not say where the plant would be built, but real estate expects believe the Southeast is a definite possibility, according to the Commercial Appeal. A leading Tennessee industrial site is the Memphis Regional Megasite, 4,100 acres of vacant farm land off Interstate 40 in Haywood and Fayette counties between Memphis and Jackson, Tennessee. State officials bought the land a decade ago to attract a Toyota car plant, but the company decided to put its Corolla assembly line west of Tupelo in Blue Springs, Mississippi. Because the new plant will build the Corolla, chances are it will be located near the Mississippi plant to be close to parts supply companies, reports…

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