Enterprise South will be dominated by a Volkswagen auto assembly facility, but officials said there still will be room at the former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant for parts suppliers as well as unrelated industry.
Staff Photo by John Rawlston -- Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, left, and Stefan Jacoby, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., walk into the Hunter Museum after arriving in a Volkswagen to announce that the German auto manufacturer chose Chattanooga as the site of a new vehicle assembly plant on Tuesday morning. Volkswagen chose the Enterprise South industrial park site over a site in Huntsville, Ala.
“The first thing we will do is work with Volkswagen on the location of suppliers, and then we will market it to others as available,” County Mayor Claude Ramsey said Tuesday after announcing that the German automaker had chosen to build its newest assembly plant in Chattanooga over sites in Alabama and Michigan.
Mayor Ramsey said he is aware of about 270 acres on the industrial park not involved with the Volkswagen assembly plant or its suppliers.
VW of America CEO Stefan Jacoby sidestepped questions Tuesday about the size of the assembly plant.
“It will be a standard VW assembly plant,” Mr. Jacoby said, emphasizing a $1 billion investment in the city that should create about 2,000 jobs.
Mr. Jacoby acknowledged that the site will leave room for future expansion.
Tom Edd Wilson, chief executive for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said Enterprise South remains an excellent location for businesses unrelated to Volkswagen.
“Enterprise South has room for additional companies and additional investors,” Mr. Wilson said. “Of course there is not room for an additional automotive manufacturer, but we will keep marketing the acreage we have out there.”
The 1,600-acre megasite where the VW assembly plant will be built, sits in the middle of the 6,000-acre industrial park. Since May, crews from Chattanooga and Hamilton County worked together to clear more than 500 acres to make the site more attractive to Volkswagen.
On the southeast side of the industrial park is a “buffer zone” of uncleared land separating the site from Interstate 75.
On the northwest side of Enterprise South are 800 acres of what was formerly known as “TNT Valley” that awaits clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure the property is clean after years of building explosives there during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnamese War.
Once the EPA acknowledges that the property is clean, it then can be marketed for use by other industries.
However, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said the auto plant will attract related businesses that could consume the entire Enterprise South site.
“We are still preparing part of the site,” Mr. Littlefield said. “Honestly, we think this project, the suppliers and the expansion in the future that will undoubtedly come, will take up most of the site.”
In addition to “satellite businesses” that will develop on Enterprise South to supply the automaker with parts, Mayor Littlefield said other suppliers and businesses will spring up all around the region.
“We’ve spent 25 years working on the site to get to this point, and it is worth the investment,” he said. “This will open up economic development possibilities all throughout the region. There are counties all around Hamilton that will benefit from this.”