Why I Believe in the Memphis Megasite

February 22, 2018
The new Nissan plant was going to Georgia, not Tennessee, because Maymee Cantrell didn’t want to sell her 400 acre farm in Smyrna. At the final hour, she decided to sell. Her neighbors, the McClarys, also agreed to sell their 260-acre farm.

As a result, Nissan opened a new auto plant in Middle Tennessee in 1993 creating thousands of jobs and long-lasting economic success. Now we have the same opportunity in West Tennessee. And the great news is we already own the site, the Memphis Regional Megasite.

It is not a question of if a major project will locate at the 4,100-acre site, but only when. And when we make it happen, West Tennessee will see an economic transformation. At full capacity, it is estimated the Megasite could generate over 30,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The Boyd family has been in rural West Tennessee since 1832, so we know how important this opportunity is for our entire region. I am committed to making it happen.

The biggest item left to complete on the site is the wastewater infrastructure. Some have asked why the state hasn’t already finished that. The simple answer is easements.
When crossing over 30 miles to the Mississippi river, there’s a lot of easements to obtain.

Once that’s done, and that should be soon, then this last important piece of infrastructure will be in place. We should continue to be aggressively selling and recruiting companies to the site now, as we have been.

When Nissan decided to move to Middle Tennessee, the land they had in mind was still in private hands. No infrastructure had even been started. Typically, a large auto factory will take two to three years to build, so they are willing to have the public infrastructure be built alongside them.

That gives us time to finish final things at the Megasite long before a new factory can open, even if they told us they had decided on our site today. Of course, the more complete the site is, the easier it is to sell. And, there are sites in other states that we compete with that are ready.

To attract the kind of transformational industry we want at the site, there will be an increased demand for skilled workers, in things like mechatronics and welding to attract these high paying jobs. Our high schools, technical and community colleges, and business partners must team up to provide this training.

To support the Nissan plant, the state invested $34 million in a training center in Smyrna. Jackson-area leaders have a vision for a similar institution at the McWherter Center to help support the Megasite.

We have to work together — our many partners in Memphis, Jackson, and the entire West Tennessee region, along with our key partners in state government, at TVA, and other– to land the transformational companies and investments we want to fufill the promise of the Megasite for our entire state and this region.

I’m excited about the opportunities this site can bring, and I’m excited about the future of West Tennessee. Let’s get it done.

Randy Boyd, former Commissioner of Economic and Community Development for Tennessee, is seeking the Republican nomination for governor this year.

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