* Today: See the front page for a story spotlighting the top stories in the area in 2008. The Life section includes a list of New Year’s Eve events and Taste includes champagne basics. Also check online for stories on photos and cartoons of the year, people continuing to help others and the emergence of broadband service in the region. Also see online yearlong coverage on VW’s arrival here.
* Thursday: Check out how the stocks of public companies based in the Chattanooga area did in 2008. Also see what resolutions are developing for the new year, both in the news section and in Sports.
* Sunday: See what 2009 brings and is expected to be “in” during the new year.
The Associated Press
Visitors in an elevator take a look at a VW Tiguan at a storage and loading tower in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Some major 2008 announcements
Company and investment
* Volkswagen, $1 billion
* Westinghouse, $25.2 million
* Hampton Inn & Suites, $19 million
* RiverCity Co./Carmike Theater, $12 million
* FedEx Freight, $9 million
Volkswagen’s top official in Chattanooga says that when he came into the city earlier this year to view the potential site for the automaker’s newest assembly plant, it made a big impression.
“When I came here I was sitting on the plane, I said ‘This is it,’” said Frank Fischer, who was later named to oversee the $1 billion assembly plant for the German automaker.
Landing Volkswagen’s new plant, designed to help VW more than triple its sales in the United States by 2018, will provide the area an economic punch that is expected to last for decades, according to officials.
State and local governments, meanwhile, are offering about $577.4 million in assistance and tax breaks to Volkswagen Group of America over the next 30 years to build the auto assembly plant, officials said.
But a study concludes that benefits from the VW plant and the supply businesses it will draw to the region easily will exceed the record-setting incentives by spurring more than $11.8 billion in personal income growth over that period.
The study by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research also estimated new total tax revenue of nearly $1.4 billion from the plant and its offshoots.
The plant and spin-off companies are expected to create 11,477 jobs, according to the study.
Salaries for the 2,000 jobs at the plant alone are projected to average $68,000 a year including benefits, or $136 million annually, said William Fox, who directs the UT center.
J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for marketing, said receiving federal approval to set up a foreign trade zone at Enterprise South industrial park for VW and potential suppliers, and at other locations in Southeast Tennessee, is big.
“It paid off relatively quickly,” he said, citing VW. “It was a factor. I think it’s very important for suppliers we’re hoping to attract.”
Also in 2008, the Bradley County Commission approved a tax incentive plan for an international company that could bring about 600 jobs and invest about $1 billion.
The business is said to be environmentally sensitive and one of the largest companies in its industry.
Company officials have asked local, state and federal officials not to reveal its name, the product or their home country.
westinghouse on nuclear wave
While Alstom Power announced in late 2007 it will make steam and gas turbines to capture business related to nuclear and fossil power plant construction in the United States, Westinghouse Nuclear Services unveiled a $25.2 million project in Chattanooga in March.
Westinghouse is relocating from Riverfront Parkway to Centre South Riverport off Amnicola Highway. It expects to add 52 workers to the 75 people it employs.
Westinghouse officials said its service technicians earn $60,000 a year or more.
According to Hoover’s, Westinghouse provides design work and start-up help for nuclear power plants and makes many of the components. Westinghouse also manufactures and supplies the commercial fuel products needed to run the plants, and it offers training, engineering, maintenance and quality management services, Hoover’s said.
u-verse on web
Another business development in 2008 thought to have a future sizable impact on the Chattanooga area involves AT&T.
AT&T is investing $400 million in Tennessee to offer its Internet-based video service called U-verse. The company now is upgrading its landline networks to include U-verse, a fiber-based system that will be offered to about 30 percent of AT&T’s landline customers.
U-verse and the company’s 3G wireless network will help AT&T battle with Comcast and EPB, Mr. Morton said. Comcast already offers cable, Internet and landline phone services while EPB is in the process of offering Internet, landline and video services.
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 ...