Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

March 29, 2009

Rotarians hear about new VW plant

One of the world's popular vehicles is coming to Tennessee.

Volkswagen AG will be spending $1 billion and bringing more than 2,000 jobs to the Tri-State area, with a new plant in Chattanooga's Enterprise South Industrial Park. The plant will open in 2011.

Tom Edd Wilson, president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, updated the Crossville Rotary Club recently about the future automotive plant.

The original property was known as Volunteer Army Ammunitions Plant (1942-1996), which made TNT and/or fertilizer. The city and county purchased 3,000 acres and received an additional 3,000 acres for buffer/nature preserve. This all took place from 2000-'05, and was re-branded as Enterprise South in 2002, with the state of Tennessee building a dedicated interchange (2004-'06).

In 2005, the site received a mega site certification, which met requirements for auto manufacturing. Toyota turned down Chattanooga-Hamilton County for their new facility in 2007 for Mississippi. That plant is temporarily mothballed, according to Wilson.

Rumors circulated VW was interested in the site in the fall of 2007, with the Chamber and state submitting over 2,700 pages of a RFI between January-March of 2008.

During that time the city and county approached Stefan Jacoby, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, about the Hamilton County site. The chamber vice president of ED presented Jacoby the Enterprise South information at the Auto News World Congress.

Included in that message was information about existing infrastructure for faster construction including ready-to-build site, dual railroads to keep shipping costs low, two existing interchanges which provide immediate access to I-75 and faster permitting which means construction can start sooner.

On April 23, 2008, VW announces unnamed sites in Tennessee, Alabama and Michigan as finalists, so the Chamber began holding meetings with the mayors and others to begin preparation for a meeting with 25 VW reps.

Site clean-up began on May 16, 2008 and continued for weeks, with the Chamber making presentations, including a book, "Das book of what the people want."

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