Volkswagen executives are scheduled back in Chattanooga today to talk with local and state officials about the timeline for construction of the planned $1 billion assembly plant.
They also are set to talk about actions related to recruiting, permitting and other issues on which VW aims to move quickly to meet its building and production schedules.
Staff Photo by Patrick Smith-- Both City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County workers continue to prepare the Enterprise South site for the Volkswagen plant.
“Once the announcement is made, now the hard work begins,” said Mark Drury, an assistant commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “There’s a lot of different components to something as complex as this.”
Mr. Drury cited discussions around infrastructure to move the timetable ahead, and he noted the state is assisting VW with training.
Close to two dozen heavy pieces of machinery were at Enterprise South industrial park Tuesday as Chattanooga and Hamilton County assist in prepping the site for Volkswagen. Roger Tudor, executive director of the Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee, said construction plans for the giant facility haven’t yet been provided to the city for review, so there isn’t a good idea of manpower requirements needed to raise the plant that’s expected to produce vehicles in 2011.
Volkswagen’s planned Chattanooga plant will make a new, midsize sedan targeted for the U.S. market
“It’s the biggest thing to hit Chattanooga in 20 to 30 years,” Mr. Tudor said. “On the manufacturing side for construction, I think it’s as exciting as DuPont or Combustion Engineering or Alstom.”
Bob Colby, who directs the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau, said VW officials are well aware of air-quality requirements in the region. VW must reveal what equipment and emissions it will have at the facility, he said.
“I’m presuming it will be a major source permit, but I haven’t seen any detail on the facility yet,” he said. “With their environmental track record and their dedication to a clean environment, I don’t think there will be any significant issue with their environmental impact.”
Jill Bratina, a Volkswagen spokeswoman, said plans are to ramp up construction in the fall.
“This is the beginning of meetings to talk of a timeline and next steps on a number of issues,” she said.
Matt Kisber, the state’s economic and community development commissioner, is expected to be in the city today for the meetings as company and government officials work through the details of the agreement with VW related to the planned plant.
Mr. Tudor said site preparation is the first step for raising the new plant, which is designed to play a key role in boosting the German automaker’s market share in the United States. While Chattanooga and Hamilton County have done a lot of grading at the 1,350-acre site, there’s much more work to be done, he said.
“There’s elevation benchmarks that have to be hit,” Mr. Tudor said. “There’s a large amount of engineering done for site preparation.”
He said the placement of construction footings for the plant may be done this year or in early 2009.
“There are people prepared to pour this year or early next year,” Mr. Tudor said. “I’m sure we have the work force to meet their stringent requirements.”
Then there must be a collaboration between the mechanical, electrical and plumbing work forces, he said.
“We’re up to the challenge,” he said.
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 ...