Volkswagen plant to bring new jobs to TN

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - Great news for job hunters! A European automaker is set to help jump start East Tennessee's economy.

Germany-based Volkswagen has picked Chattanooga as the home for it's new U.S. manufacturing plant.

The plant's impact is expected reach way beyond Hamilton county. Today's announcement means a billion dollar investment and thousands of new jobs. Knoxville business leaders say that'll serve as a set of economic jumper cables for Knox and the surrounding counties. Business leaders say these are the jobs East Tennessee needs.

A sluggish economy's left Penny Craig jobless.

"It's very hard to be unemployed right because I just became a single mother, and I have two kids at home, and it's hard to just live on unemployment," Craig said.
She's not alone in her job hunt. Economic cutbacks have cut hundreds of East Tennesseans out of work

"Sea Ray, Panasonic...we've had a lot of people coming in with lost jobs in the manufacturing industry," said Tim Witt from TN Career Center.

That's why Germany-based Volkswagen's decision to build a plant in Chatanooga...has business leaders across East Tennessee enthusiastic. The facility's expected to create two-thousand direct jobs and the automaker plans to invest one-billion dollars in economy.

"The reason we're so excited is one, the autoplant, but two the suppliers that will be involved with this project," said Rhonda Rice from the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.

That means the economic impact could travel up I-75 to Knoxville and the surrounding region.

"Hopefully plants like ARC and other companies that manufacture parts for automobile manufacturers will see more of that. It's too early to tell, but we're optimistic," Witt said.

The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce's Innovation Valley Program's looking at how to market the area specifically for the auto industry. The chamber says automobile forecasters predict for every 10 direct manufacturing jobs...the plant will create an additional eight jobs.

"All the suppliers, distributors, direct and indirect jobs, that's going to have a multi-million dollar impact for our region," Rice said.

Rice says these are the types of jobs East Tennessee wants.

"They require a skilled work force. They're highly paid, and highly producing manufacturing jobs," Rice said.

But with the first car not set to roll out until 2011. Craig's job hunt continues.

Exactly how many jobs could come to East Tennessee's still not known. Volkswagen expects the jobs to come from Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce says it's possible a Knoxville-area construction firm could help the build the plant.

Governor Phil Bredesen says VW chose Chattanooga because of the state's commitment to innovation and respect for the environment. Tennessee beat out Alabama and Mississippi for the plant.

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