Updated: Sep. 29, 2021, 4:49 p.m. | Published: Sep. 29, 2021, 4:19 p.m.
Detroit may be the “Motor City,” but “Blue Oval City” is being built in Tennessee.
Ford is investing $11.4 billion and creating 11,000 jobs at new plants in Tennessee and Kentucky, which will build F-Series pickups and electric vehicle batteries.
The Dearborn-based automaker has invested heavily in Michigan facilities in recent years, but is catching heat for going south to build these “mega-sites,” as Ford calls them.
“Michigan is always going to put a competitive alternative on the table when we are given an opportunity to,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a budget-related press conference Wednesday, Sept. 29. “We look forward to future investments and looking to Michigan first and giving us the opportunity to put a robust package on the table, as we want them to grow in their home state first and foremost.”
This is Ford’s “biggest investment ever,” Ford President and CEO Jim Farley said in a news release.
Tennessee’s governor called it a “watershed moment” for the state and Kentucky’s governor said this is the largest investment in the history of the state.
“I’m always looking to make Michigan more competitive and always eager to put solutions on the table, but we need a real opportunity to do that,” Whitmer said. “And that really wasn’t the case here.”
Ford likely took a variety of factors into account, Whitmer said, including energy rates – as Michigan’s industrial electricity rate is higher than Tennessee, Kentucky and the national average.
“We always consider Michigan and have invested more than $7 billion in our home state since 2016,” a Ford spokesperson said in a statement. “Location decisions for our new mega campus were based on several factors — starting with site size, shovel-readiness, and proximity to other EV sites, transportation and other key services. Michigan did not have the type of sites needed for this project, so they were not part of the formal bid process.”
The 6-square-mile campus in Stanton, Tennessee will be called “Blue Oval City,” while the Glendale, Kentucky plants will be called BlueOvalSK Battery Park. Production is scheduled to begin in 2025 once the facilities are built.
Kentucky and Tennessee gave Ford plenty of reasons to invest – as Tennessee is giving Ford $500 million in incentives and Kentucky is offering up to $250 million in forgivable loans and $36 million in skills training investment, per multiple media reports.