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MEMPHIS, Tenn.– As the groundwork for Ford’s Blue Oval City begins, dozens gathered Thursday to learn more about the impacts it could have on the region.

An event put on by the Memphis Area Association of Governments brought city leaders and experts together to discuss the importance of planning.

“This will really impact the entire region, so the smaller communities really need to unveil themselves to some structure to manage growth,” said Ralph Moore, Director of the Memphis Area Association of Governments.

A study by the University of Memphis reveals mega sites generally lead to an economic boost and population growth. But experts say it can also put a strain on the housing market which is why it’s important to plan ahead.

“What I think needs to happen is those folks need to start talking to each other, the mayors from all of these localities need to start talking to each other so that we can have some regional coordinations,” said Charlie Santo, urban planner at the University of Memphis.

Blue Oval City is expected to bring 5,800 jobs to the Memphis area, with thousands more expected for the construction of the $5.6 billion site in Haywood County. It has residents like Rhonda Houston excited about the possibility.

“I wanna be here to get as much knowledge as I can to take the local community citizens to let them know that it’s time to open our eyes and be active about what’s coming to our community if we wanna be a part of it and not pushed out of it,” Houston said.

Blue Oval City is expected to improve the economy in Haywood County by 127 percent, but Randall Gross, a development consultant, believes everyone must get on board for it to happen.

“Projects like this are big and scary to some people because they don’t know how it’s gonna impact on them in various ways, I think the things to remember is that there is going to be a lot of planning going into this and there is an important way to look at how you can benefit from this project,” Gross said.

While the plant is not expected to be complete till 2026, Houston hopes this early planning pays off.

“I really wanna see ford work with the people of the community and bring them up and not push them out so that we can grow as well as the town,” Houston said.

If you missed out on Thursday’s forum, Memphis Area Association of Governments streamed the event on its Facebook page. You can watch a recording of the livestream here.

There are plans already in the works to hold a similar event later this year.