Ford continues to invest in wellbeing in Blue Oval City. Tesla should probably take note

The production of electric vehicles is a large-scale endeavor that requires significant industrial effort. To meet demand, Tesla has built gigafactories in several countries. Other companies that want to be among the players of the future are also expanding their global supply and production networks. However, we didn’t see anyone build an entire city in production, at least until Ford announced Blue Oval City in September.

Just a year after the agreement, Ford and SK On have invested $5.6 billion to build an electric truck and batteries for future Ford and Lincoln vehicles in West Tennessee. Around 6,000 new jobs will be created by 2025, when production begins at the 6-square-mile mega-campus.

“Ford’s historic investment in West Tennessee is a testament to our state’s strong business climate and unmatched workforce,” said Gov. Bill Lee at the time. “BlueOval City will have a transformative impact on Tennessee residents and our economy, and we are proud to have this global company call Haywood County home.”

At the time, the company announced that it wanted to do more than get a factory and town of support up and running in West Tennessee. Ford continues to be involved in various West Tennessee communities by hosting livestream discussions and participating in community projects. Most importantly, the company has partnered with the University of Tennessee to restore the creek water flowing through the school’s Lone Oaks Farm and expand STEM education opportunities for students from kindergarten through 12th grade statewide.

Now they are taking things to the next level when it comes to making sure the people and not just the factory in the area are doing well. In a recent press release, Ford announced several new programs to support nonprofits in the region.

The Ford Motor Company Fund is improving local communities in West Tennessee with a new $1 million capital grant program. The company’s philanthropic arm will help strengthen and improve infrastructure, a particularly important endeavor now that Ford’s new electric vehicle manufacturing campus, BlueOval City, is underway.

The following Tennessee counties have access to a $1 million tax-exempt capital grant earmarked to fund construction projects such as building renovations and land conservation: Haywood, Fayette, Tipton, Lauderdale, Shelby, and Madison. These funds usually go to non-profit organizations or municipalities.

“Ford has always put community first, and we remain true to our legacy of giving back by investing in our new neighbors in Tennessee,” said Mike Schmidt, director of programs at the Ford Motor Company Fund. “Our goal is to ensure that the communities we build in benefit from the investments we make and the jobs Ford and SK On create.”

The grants, which range from $25,000 to $100,000, are intended to fund physical infrastructure projects in the area, such as building playgrounds and renovating existing common areas. The Ford Fund capital grant program builds on the company’s existing philanthropic support in West Tennessee, including the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum and the National Urban League in Memphis.

Applications are due Friday, February 3, 2023 and applicants will be notified of results by early April. To apply for a capital grant, organizations should visit the Ford Fund website. United Way of West Tennessee may sponsor combinations and groups that are not tax-exempt. Those who do not have a 501c3 spend status should email [email protected] and include “Ford Fund Capital Grant” in the headlines if they receive an email referring to the Capital application Submit grant program through the United Way website.

The well-being of the employees is the well-being of the company

I know that some “hardcore” guys who think we should all grind ourselves to the bone and destroy ourselves for our bosses will think this is all “awakened” nonsense, but this couldn’t be further from it . Doing things to keep the community stable around a large factory and looking after your employees and their families can be very profitable.

The fact is, you don’t just expect a lot of work from employees. Anyone can sit at a desk and play solitaire or watch cat videos 80 hours a week. That doesn’t mean they’re actually doing anything that will make the company make more money or impress their customers. Even if you don’t screw around 80 hours a week, 80 hours of part-time work is no better than a good, solid 40 hours of work.

How is a worker who doesn’t sleep well supposed to work solidly? What about an employee who’s worried about their kid who was on drugs and ran away? Will they be their best? There are so many things that could just sap productivity at a facility that’s right outside its walls.

The first bridge over the Mississippi, image by Ganesha811 (CC-BY-SA 4.0).

The image above shows the first bridge to span the Mississippi River just a few feet from its source at Lake Itasca, Minnesota. According to Wikipedia, this is the only wooden bridge spanning the river. I would imagine the cost of building this bridge was extremely low. By catching the river early it didn’t take much to cross.

The I-20 Bridge from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Photo by Jennifer Sensiba.

But you won’t cross that river in Mississippi or Louisiana nearly as cheaply. They talk about a multi-million dollar project just to get a water pipe or some power lines across it. Pedestrian bridges cost more. Bridges for highways and railways are even more expensive.

I don’t know about you, but if I had to solve a big problem, I’d rather solve it upstream early, when it’s still small. I’d rather invest a relative pocket money in prevention than pay for the pound of cure that comes when things fester and fall apart.

For example, you can bet that Tesla wishes it could have spent a few thousand dollars training employees not to engage in racism and discrimination after it ended up paying out $15 million (and Tesla was lucky that a judge cut it from the original $137 million). I’ve read that Tesla factory workers are being pushed really hard, especially by executives and even more by those who report directly to Elon Musk.

It seems highly unlikely that exhausted, overwhelmed factory workers and executives who can’t keep up are costing Tesla nothing. Making things better may cost the company something, but it’s probably a lot cheaper than the cost of letting those issues sit and rot.

Featured image provided by Ford.




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