Sep 29, 2021,09:42am EDT
Jim Farley’s decision to invest $7 billion in green-field new battery and electric-vehicle assembly plants in the mid-South is not only a huge new commitment by the Ford Motor Co. CEO to the fast-gaining propulsion technology. It’s also a mammoth declaration by America’s iconic carmaker that the future of the auto business in the United States will remain anchored in flyover country.
Kentucky and Tennessee scrapped to land the $11.4 billion in new industrial production that will be located northeast of Memphis and in Glendale, Kentucky, including commitments by SK Innovation, Ford’s battery supplier. The two states came up with nearly $1 billion in financial incentives for the two companies to plunk the facilities and an estimated 11,000 new direct jobs in their precincts.
“West Tennessee will now lead the nation in the next American industrial revolution, said Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee in a news conference, with actually not too much hyperbole. Andy Beshear, the governor of Kentucky, predicted “these enormous plants will capture the attention of the entire world. Every nation will know where Kentucky is and who we are.”
The repercussions were immediate in other states that lost out. Michigan officials, for example, were left explaining how they couldn’t land such a watershed new investment by an important homegrown company, and reminding everyone that automakers are continuing to invest other billions across the state. Ohio was the other reported finalist.
“I was shocked, very disappointed to see” that Ford decided to locate the plants out of state, U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg told the Detroit News. Quick analysis by the News concluded that Michigan’s comparatively high industrial-power costs, lack of large-scale tracts suitable for modern developments, and its “difficulty quickly mustering the kinds of financial incentive packages that can help close big deals” all contributed to the state’s failure to land Ford’s plants.