Letters The Readers Speak …
Our Opportunity, Our Time, Our Future – Let’s Complete, Fill The Megasite
The new Nissan plant was going to Georgia, not Tennessee, because Maymee Cantrell didn’t want to sell her 400-acre farm in Smyrna. But at the final hour, she decided to sell. Her neighbors, the Mc-Clary’s also agreed to sell their 260-acre farm, and in 1983, Nissan opened a new auto plant in Middle Tennessee creating thousands of jobs and longlasting 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, 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 Boyds have been in rural West Tennessee since 1832, so we know how important this opportunity is for our entire region. And I am committed to making it happen.
What’s left to complete at the site? The biggest item left to complete is the waste water 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. So we should continue to be aggressively selling and recruiting companies to the site now, as we have been.
What does shovel ready mean? 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. But, 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. So whatever is left to complete, I will, as governor, pledge to finish it immediately.
What should our communities be doing now to prepare? We must skill up! 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. If I am fortunate to be your next governor, I pledge that the state will do its part to support that effort and quickly create these training opportunities.
Bottom line — we have to work together as a team to be successful. I call it Team Tennessee. And I have the experience and am prepared to rally and lead all of our many partners in Memphis, Jackson, and the entire West Tennessee region, along with our key partners in state government, at TVA, and others, to work together to land the transformational companies and investments we want to fulfill the promise of the Megasite for our entire state and this region.
Filling the Memphis Regional Megasite with great jobs will be job one for me. It’s not a matter of if, it’s only a matter of when. I’m excited about the opportunities this site can bring, and I’m excited about the future of West Tennessee. This is our opportunity – this is our time – this is our future. 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.