WASHINGTON — Since 2004, Enterprise South industrial park has received nearly $24 million in federal funding, mostly for infrastructure improvements and workforce development programs, records show.
And more could be on the way.
U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and Sen. Lamar Alexander, both R-Tenn., who sit on their respective chambers’ appropriations committees, say the investments from federal dollars played a key role in convincing Volkswagen officials to locate that company’s new North American manufacturing plant in Chattanooga.
“I do think this is a good example of how an active member of Congress can actually help bring good things by ... using the congressional prerogative of directing funding,” Rep. Wamp said.
FEDERAL MONEY FOR ENTERPRISE SOUTH
FISCAL YEAR 2008
* $200,000 for Hamilton County Center for Entrepreneurial Growth
* $850,000 for Hamilton County/Chattanooga Enterprise South Industrial Park Training Center
FISCAL YEAR 2007
FISCAL YEAR 2006
* $150,000 for the Hamilton County Center for Entrepreneurial Growth
* $17.2 million for Interstate 75 interchange across Enterprise South industrial park to Highway 58
FISCAL YEAR 2005
* $2.5 million for the Enterprise South connector road
* $250,000 to Hamilton County Center for Entrepreneurial Growth
* $300,000 for Technical Workforce Development Training Partnership with Southeast Tennessee Development District
FISCAL YEAR 2004
* $500,000 for Tennessee Valley Workforce Aging Management Program initiative at Chattanooga State Technical Community College
* $500,000 for the Hamilton County Center for Entrepreneurial Growth
* $500,000 Workforce Aging Management Program
* $1 million for Enterprise South connector road
Volkswagen announced last week a $1 billion assembly plant to be built at the industrial park by 2011. Jill Bratina, spokeswoman for Volkswagen of America, said the company was impressed with the readiness of the site at Enterprise South.
“We’re on a very aggressive timeline for the start of production, so having good infrastructure in place was important,” Ms. Bratina said. “We also knew there was the need for good work force training programs to get employees ready for us to build the new mid-sized sedans at the facility.”
The federal money is on top of state and local incentives to VW that could top $500 million.
The bulk of the federal funding is $17.2 million for an Interstate 75 interchange across the industrial park to State Highway 58. The funding was secured in fiscal year 2006 as part of the federal highway bill.
Two earmarks totaling $3.5 million in fiscal year 2005 and 2006 appropriations bills helped fund a connector road in the industrial park.
About $4 million in federal funding has gone toward work force development, including the Hamilton County Center for Entrepreneurial Growth and the joint Chattanooga-Hamilton County Enterprise South Industrial Park Training Center.
“These federal investments joined state and local government dollars in helping make Enterprise South an attractive site for Volkswagen, whose own investment in the Enterprise South area, to include thousands of new jobs, will be felt by the surrounding community for years to come,” said Lee Pitts, spokesman for Sen. Alexander.
Rep. Wamp said he is seeking another $1.5 million earmark in this coming years’ appropriations bills for additional worker training programs, while Sen. Alexander is seeking a $1 million earmark to provide a connection via Highway 317 between the I-75 interchange at the industrial park and Collegedale, Tenn.
Rep. Wamp added that he envisions possible further federal investment for the Volkswagen plant, not on Enterprise South infrastructure, but on biofuels research, similar to a collaboration between BMW and Clemson University.
“I do see a scenario where Oak Ridge (National Laboratory) research might be directed to biofuels research under a partnership with Volkswagen,” he said.