The construction of Ford’s new auto production complex in west Tennessee will lead to the creation of 6,000 new jobs. An all electric truck and EV batteries for Ford and Lincoln vehicles will be manufactured at the facility beginning in 2025.
BlueOval City (BOC) is the largest single investment in the state at $5.6 billion, according to Tennessee governor Bill Lee. The governor and Ford executives today announced updates to the project, which broke ground in September, and revealed details of the BlueOval Learning jobs training program for local residents.
Governor Lee adds, “We know that a good job brings dignity, hope, and opportunity.”
SK On, an electric vehicle battery manufacturer, is Ford’s partner in a joint venture called BlueOval SK or BOSK.
When completed, the campus will stretch across six square miles and include an assembly plant, supplier park, battery manufacturing, and recycling plant.
“BlueOval City is the blueprint for Ford’s electric future around the world,” saysBill Ford, Ford’s executive chair. “We will build revolutionary electric vehicles at an advanced manufacturing site that works in harmony with the planet, aligning business growth and innovation with environmental progress.”
Jim Farley, the president and CEO of Ford, says that the company will produce 500,000 new EV trucks at the Tennessee plant once it is up and running. He described the truck – dubbed T3, short for “Trust The Truck” – as the most advanced EV ever built, and it will be created to be fully updatable via software.
He also lauds the environmental impact of the plant itself. “BlueOval City will be only use carbon-free electricity from day one. We plan to have zero fresh water use for assembly. We will have zero waste for landfills.”
The impact on the workforce, says Farley, will be dramatic.
“Tennessee is the Volunteer State and we need 6,000 volunteers. We’re going to fill 6,000 great jobs and we will change the future for families,” adds Farley.
Building the Local Workforce
The site is located halfway between Memphis and Jackson which both already have a variety of advanced manufacturing facilities.
“Ford’s historic investment in West Tennessee is a testament to our state’s unmatched business climate and highly-skilled workforce,” Jade Cooper Byers, press secretary for Governor Lee, tells WorkingNation. “BlueOval City will have a generational impact on Tennesseans, further strengthen our economy, and secure Tennessee’s place as the national leader in automotive manufacturing.”
The area’s workforce has relevant skillsets, however they will need to be upgraded to incorporate the newer technologies that will be used at BlueOval City, says Jeff Sisk, Ed.D., executive director of the Center for Workforce Development.
Here is how Ford outlines the BlueOval Learning initiative:
“To prepare individuals for new jobs at BlueOval City, Ford is introducing BlueOval Learning to empower future workers to build an EV future in America. This talent development program will strengthen skills, provide teacher support and increase work-based learning experiences.”
Key elements, according to Ford, include:
- Building STEM curricula: Ford will support K-12 schools and universities to expand existing STEM-related curricula and infrastructure
- Bringing advanced manufacturing to local schools: Ford will provide mechatronics training equipment and program development in Haywood, Tipton and Lauderdale counties
- Kick-starting careers in high school: Ford will help to expand certifications and dual-enrollment opportunities for students
- Experiential learning: Ford will partner with colleges and universities to develop work-based learning such as co-ops and internships
- Premier training in advanced technologies: Ford will collaborate with higher education institutions to provide training on advanced manufacturing, EVs and battery manufacturing
- BlueOval City TCAT: This state-of-the-art training center, a $40 million investment by the State of Tennessee and created with the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, will be a hub for education resources and best-in-class training programs
Changing the Community’s Economic Landscape
“BOC will change the economic landscape of West Tennessee for generations to come. Ford is a global iconic brand and they chose West Tennessee to build their largest facility to date. That’s a huge vote of confidence for our state and our workforce development system,” Sisk says.
Before heading the Center for Workforce Development, Sisk led the Jackson location of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT), the state’s workforce training schools. He said enrollment was already on the rise post-pandemic, and there’s an increase in industrial maintenance programs since the BOC announcement.
Sisk says they are also ready to upskill potential BOC employees. TCATs have been augmenting existing programs to incorporate specific competencies that Ford and BOSK will need. One new program offering in development is for electric vehicle production technicians.
There’s more interest in dual-enrollment programs with K-12 partners. Ford has participated in events introducing young students to careers. Among them, a career expo for eighth graders, parent-student workshops, and panel discussion at a high school. Support of expanded STEM education programs is part of the BOC project.
“I’m a West Tennessee native and I immediately recognized the huge impact that this would have,” Sisk adds. “Thousands of high-wage, high-skill jobs will be coming to our area and opportunities for economic success for a group of residents who haven’t had an opportunity like this, ever.”