While a Volkswagen plant could bring 2,000 jobs, the experience of other automakers indicates that suppliers for a new facility could add at least that many workers.
Analysts also say it’s possible Volkswagen’s current site search could lead to an assembly plant at one location and an engine plant at another with Chattanooga or Huntsville, Ala., getting either.
“They will need engines,” said Aaron Bragman, a research analyst for Global Insight in Detroit, Mich. “It’s possible.”
Mike Randle, publisher of Southern Business and Development magazine in Birmingham, Ala., said he has heard the Volkswagen effort could split into two projects. He cited activity at both the Huntsville and Chattanooga sites.
“Absolutely, that’s a possibility,” he said.
Kia Motor Corp.’s new $1.2 billion plant in West Georgia is slated to eventually employ 2,500 people and assemble 300,000 vehicles a year. Already, about 3,500 supplier jobs have been created, officials said.
In Tennessee, Nissan has an auto manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tenn., and an engine and transmission plant about 60 miles south in Decherd, Tenn. The Decherd plant employs about 1,200 people.
The importance of supplier jobs to the economic impact of a new auto plant is evident in Georgia, where Kia Motor Corp. is building a $1.2 billion assembly facility in West Point, Ga.
Kia and its suppliers have announced about 6,000 jobs so far, said Maggie Large, a communications specialist for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Ms. Large said Kia will need 2,500 people for its plant, expected to start production in 2008. The other jobs are at suppliers to the facility as part of the Kia plant’s economic spinoff, she said.
Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, said the expectations of the Kia plant’s effects are being fulfilled.
“The numbers we’re seeing are what we hoped they would be,” he said, adding the jobs are helping revive part of Georgia hit hard by the textile downturn.
Mr. Brantley said having Chattanooga land the Volkswagen plant would benefit Georgia’s work force. He said the state would applaud any state’s corporate recruiting if it would help Georgia. But Mr. Brantley declined to talk about any specifics relating to a project.
He said companies don’t care about state lines.
“They need good workers who make great products,” Mr. Brantley said.
Volkswagen could make a decision in mid-July on if and where it will build a new North American assembly plant that could eventually make 250,000 vehicles a year.
The company has named Tennessee, Alabama and Michigan as prospects, and Chattanooga’s Enterprise South industrial park is believed a candidate along with a site near Huntsville.
Volkswagen’s chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, wants at least 70 percent of a new car made at the plant sourced in North America, according to German newspaper Handelsblatt.
Volkswagen’s only other North American plant in Puebla, Mexico, is 50 percent local content, the newspaper reported, citing industry sources.
Mr. Bragman said Volkswagen already uses a number of suppliers which may also be utilized by German automakers Mercedes and BMW, which run factories in Alabama and South Carolina respectively.
But car makers import parts from all over the world to their plants, 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 ...