Ford Motor Co. announces $16.5 Million partnership with university Of Tennessee.
The investment covers the construction cost of restoring some 20,000 feet of streams on the Lone Oaks property.
It will also provide long-term financial funding for Lone Oaks’ educational programs.
Ford Motor Co. will invest $16.5 million for stream and wetland restoration at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture’s Loan Oaks Farm, its latest investment in the state.
The Michigan-based company made the announcement at the 2022 Memphis International Auto Show during a panel discussing the new partnership between Ford and the University of Tennessee.
UT Extension is developing Lone Oaks, a 1,200-acre facility, into a 4-H and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education center in Middleton, about 45 miles east of Memphis and near Ford’s future Blue Oval City campus in Haywood County.
“Every year, UTIA provides valuable life skills as well as STEM education opportunities to nearly 112,000 students across Tennessee,” said UT President Randy Boyd in a statement.
“Ford’s investment in Lone Oaks will ensure our 4-H programs will be able to expand STEM education to Tennessee students for years to come.”
Ford was required to invest in a significant stream restoration project because of the size of Blue Oval City due to the Clean Water of Act of 1972. The act requires that any impact on streams and wetlands from development projects, such as buildings and roads, be offset by restoring and permanently protecting an equivalent amount of habitat elsewhere.
While education programs at Lone Oaks serve about 5,000 K-12 students each year, the new facility will allow the program’s continued growth and offer overnight STEM programs and camps.
Once the project is completed, the investments will restore and provide community access to approximately two miles of severely impaired streams and several acres of wetlands along Cub Creek, 40 miles southeast of Blue Oval City in Middleton.
The $16.5 million investment covers the construction cost of restoring some 20,000 feet of streams on the Lone Oaks property while also providing long-term financial funding for Lone Oaks’ educational programs. The residual funds from the project will be invested by the UT Foundation to support education programs at Lone Oaks Farm in perpetuity, according to the news release.
“In addition to restoring the stream, this partnership will create additional opportunities for our UT Extension professionals to develop STEM programs with an emphasis on workforce skills and preparation for higher education. As the needs of employers in the region and state change, we are tailoring our educational programs to match those needs,” said UT Extension Dean Ashley Stokes.
Ford officials, along with South Korean company SK On, announced plans in September for a $5.6 billion project to produce electric trucks and electric vehicle batteries at a 4,100-acre site in Stanton. The project is expected to create about 5,800 jobs.
Ford will hope the additional STEM training will prepare some of the state’s residents to be ready for those new jobs once production on the plant begins in 2025.