An official says the Dothan, Ala., area won't get a new Volkswagen plant, and an industry expert contends the search effort appears to be targeting certified megasites such as Enterprise South industrial park.
Mike Randle, publisher of Southern Business and Development magazine, said Volkswagen is looking at sites which have infrastructure on them, as does Enterprise South in Chattanooga.
Enterprise South has been certified by TVA as ready to house a big project such as an auto assembly plant. Megasite certification tells companies the land has the roads, sewer, water, electricity, railroad lines and environmental clearances to permit a quick ramp-up for construction.
Houston County, Ala., Commission Chairman Mark Culver said he had learned the South Alabama area had been eliminated from an update sent out by Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Parker.
Mr. Culver says he believes the competition for the plant now is between North Alabama and Tennessee. Other Alabama sites no longer in consideration for a plant include the Mobile area and a Black Belt location near Meridian, Miss., according to the Associated Press.
Volkswagen said in April it had narrowed its search for a U.S. factory to three states — Alabama, Tennessee and Michigan. VW spokeswoman Jill Bratina declined comment on any specific site.
In Tennessee, TVA has certified sites in Montgomery County near Clarksville and in Haywood County near Brownsville. In Alabama, a location in Limestone County near Athens is certified by TVA.
Mr. Randle, who also publishes SouthernAutoCorridor.com, said Chattanooga’s prospects are good for landing the Volkswagen facility.
Toyota Motor Corp. narrowly passed on Enterprise South for a plant that last year went to Tupelo, Miss., he said.
Mr. Randle said that Dennis Cuneo, who led the Toyota location search, noted the 1,600-acre Enterprise South tract in Tyner was “an amazing site.”
“If you come in second one time, it makes it easier for the next one to come down the pike,” he said.
Jim Allen, a TVA spokesman, said that agency’s role is to serve on the front end as a liaison between local communities and companies.
He declined comment on the Volkswagen search.
A Volkswagen plant could ultimately build 250,000 vehicles and employ at least 2,000 workers, according to reports. The company is expected to make a decision on whether to proceed with a new plant this summer.