|Business has picked up at Suga’s Diner in Stanton, Tenn. |
(Photo by Andrea Morales, The Wall Street Journal)
“Once fully operational, Ford’s 3,600-acre site is expected to employ about 6,000 workers, about 15 times Stanton’s current population,” Eckert writes. “Allan Sterbinsky, the mayor of Stanton, spends his days planning how the town—home to a barbecue restaurant, a Dollar General and a couple of cemeteries—will build thousands of new homes, expand the local school system and potentially establish a police force.” Sterbinsky told Eckert, “It’s tremendously overwhelming, just everything that has to be done.”
As America's shift to EVs gained momentum, the auto industry’s move South increased speed. “Auto companies have announced more than $110 billion in EV-related investments in the U.S. since 2018, with about half that sum destined for Southern states, according to the Center for Automotive Research, a nonprofit based in Ann Arbor, Michigan," Eckert adds. "Automakers are now rushing to construct assembly plants and battery-making facilities—some sitting on sites the size of 60 football fields.”
|Location of Stanton in Haywood County, |
Tennessee. (Wikipedia map)
Meanwhile, folks in Stanton and surrounding towns of Haywood County, pop. 17,900, have their hands full. "The median household income in Haywood County, where the Ford complex is located, is about $40,000. One in five residents live in poverty," Eckert reports. Already some local restaurants and services are enjoying growth, but for some, Ford's presence has hurt their business. "Teknor Apex, a chemical producer and major employer in the county, was already struggling to find workers. . . . Many young people in the area end up leaving for better pay and a greater variety of opportunities elsewhere, draining the local talent pool."