MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mid-South governments should work to engage Ford in helping increase quality, affordable housing, according to experts speaking at Wednesday’s State of Memphis Housing Summit.
Ford has announced plans to hire nearly 6,000 people at its new Blue Oval City plant in Haywood County.
It’s an exciting time for Memphis and presents an opportunity for leaders to leverage the investment in other ways, according to Director Helen McIlvaine with the Office of Housing in Alexandria, Virginia.
Alexandria has seen its own share of corporate investment; Amazon announced in 2018 it would build its second headquarters next door in Arlington.
McIlvaine spoke at the housing summit and offered advice.
“We’re happy to have this economic opportunity but with it comes a burden that is a local and regional burden to insure that housing is available,” McIlvaine said.
In Virginia, Amazon has become a local partner by directly investing in building affordable housing and creating a fund that acts quickly to purchase homes at risk of selling to outside investors, she said.
“We’ve been able to more or less tie up properties that would otherwise go to market and not be available for working people affordably.”
Memphis leaders said they’re taking notes.
Mayor Jim Strickland acknowledged sharing is imperative among cities.
“We don’t sue each other for trademark infringement. We take pride in the fact somebody copied our idea,” Strickland said.
Meanwhile, Memphis Director of Housing and Community Development Ashley Cash said she hasn’t talked with Ford yet about housing, but will use the information to better prepare.
“I think they got there over time but I think those are two great things to aspire to,” Cash said.
She also said she’s learned engaging with other regional governments will be key to getting Ford’s cooperation.