J Ed Marston
Volkswagen on Wednesday put aside questions about its new Chattanooga auto assembly plant, announcing it is set to begin work on the facility’s $30 million paint shop.
The German automaker also said it has selected Detroit-based Walbridge as the general contractor for the shop, which will be one of the three primary plant buildings at its Enterprise South industrial park site.
The $30 million is the first major portion of the company’s $1 billion investment in the plant slated to open in early 2011. Last month, officials said the paint shop would be larger than initially planned and built to handle 1,000 cars per day.
“The paint facility is one of the more complex aspects of plant construction, and only a limited number of companies have the expertise necessary,” said Frank Fischer, CEO-designate for Volkswagen’s Chattanooga production facility. “After receiving strong proposals and finalizing the negotiations, we determined that Walbridge brings the experience necessary to execute this critical task.”
VW is planning a January groundbreaking ceremony.
Earlier this week, Toyota Motor Corp. indefinitely suspended work on its planned auto plant near Tupelo, Miss., because of souring economic conditions.
Published reports Saturday indicated VW managers were meeting today to discuss the Chattanooga plant and other facilities.
Walbridge and its subcontractors will build the foundation, steel, siding and roofing for the paint shop, according to VW.
The structure is scheduled to be weather-tight by the end of September.
As part of Volkswagen’s commitment to a diverse work force and supplier base, the extensive bidding process required every bidder to identify that it would subcontract with at least 10 percent minority or women owned businesses and Walbridge’s submission exceeded the target, according to VW.
“We are committed to a local and diverse supplier and employee base and we are pleased that Walbridge shares that commitment,” said Mr. Fischer.
Walbridge’s notable projects include Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America assembly plant in San Antonio, Texas; bundled paint shop projects for General Motors in Ohio, Michigan and Oshawa, Ontario; and the Ford Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Mich.
Walbridge Chairman and CEO John Rakolta Jr. said in a statement the company has a long history in industrial construction.
“We are extremely pleased to have been selected by Volkswagen,” he said. “We believe we have the best team in the industry and we’re ready to begin work.”
Volkswagen’s plant is slated to create 2,000 jobs.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...