Chattanooga Gets a $1-Billion Windfall from Volkswagon
Tennessee scored its largest economic development coup in more than a decade when Volkswagon Group of America announced in July that it will build its new U.S. automotive production facility in Chattanooga.
The Chattanooga plant marks a return to U.S. production for VW, which closed its last North American plant in Pennsylvania in 1988.
The German auto giant’s decision to locate car production in Tennessee is expected to bring more than 2,000 jobs and pump nearly $1 billion into the local economy.
The company will build the facility in the Enterprise South Industrial Park, located 12 miles northeast of downtown Chattanooga. The 1,350-acre site is owned 100% by the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County. Adjacent to Interstate 75, It is certified as an industrial megasite by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The new VW plant is expected to have an initial production capacity of 150,000 vehicles, including a new midsize sedan that Volkswagon is designing for the North American market. Production at the plant will commence in 2011.
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen declared that Volkswagon picked the Tennessee site over competing locations in Michigan and Alabama because of “shared values, [Tennessee’s] commitment to innovation, and [its] strong respect for the environment.”
“This project will have a significant impact on the economy of Tennessee and the region for decades to come,” Bredesen said at the plant siting announcement.
“Volkswagon and Chattanooga have a lot in common,” added Chattanooga City Mayor Ron Littlefield. “Both are serious about environmental sustainability and 21st century manufacturing.”
Industry analysts noted that the falling value of the U.S. dollar may have been a key factor in VW’s decision to resume car production in the U.S. The decline of the U.S. currency has increased the cost of overseas production, and conversely made U.S.-based auto manufacturing more cost effective.
The Tennessee Department of Economic Development put together a comprehensive package of incentives to seal the deal with Volkswagon, including statutory incentives tied to job creation and capital investment. Additional support in the deal included assistance for building up public infrastructure and job training.
Japanese Auto Supplier NSK Chooses Dyersburg
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber joined officials from NSK Steering Systems America, Inc. in May to celebrate the grand opening of their new facility in Dyersburg. The 100,000-square-foot plant will house 140 employees and represents a capital investment of more than $6 million.”The decision by NSK to come to Dyersburg illustrates just what can be accomplished when we work together to attract new industry,” Gov. Bredesen says. “The result is that today we’re celebrating the first Japanese-owned automotive supplier to make such a significant capital investment in rural West Tennessee. I want to say thank you to NSK for selecting Dyersburg, your confidence in this community’s workforce and your strong spirit of partnership in this project.”
NSK is the first Japanese-owned auto supplier to locate in Dyersburg. West Tennessee as a region is quickly becoming a growing center of automotive manufacturing, bringing more high-skilled, high-wage jobs to the area.
Dyersburg is targeting auto suppliers, high-end food processors and metal fabricators in a new three-year economic development strategic plan that was developed in partnership with TVA and Boyette Levy Consulting in Atlanta.
“Dyersburg is strategically located on the I-69 corridor and the main line of the Canadian National Railroad, with the only highway bridge crossing the Mississippi River between Memphis and Cairo, IL,” says chamber president Allen Hester.
“We’re right in the middle of the auto plants that have migrated southward during the past 30 years.”
Dyersburg is a manufacturing hub, including facilities owned by Firestone, Caterpillar, and Sara Lee Foods.