About 70 potential Volkswagen suppliers met with state and local officials in Germany the past week, and Tennessee’s top recruiter says the Chattanooga VW plant site could land five to 10 companies.
But state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber said suppliers that land at Enterprise South industrial park may not start operations at the same time.
“They don’t want to start up assembly operations and all of the suppliers simultaneously,” he said. “That’s a lot of risk.”
Mr. Kisber said some suppliers who eventually come to Enterprise South may start by shipping goods into the site.
The commissioner was among more than 40 people who spent about six days in Germany wooing suppliers for VW’s planned $1 billion plant in Chattanooga.
While the assembly plant expects to hire up to 2,000 workers, VW’s supplier network could employ two to three times that many people, officials have said.
Officials from Chattanooga area counties spent the trip positioning to benefit from Volkswagen.
“We fall within a 60-mile radius of where VW will be located soon and we’ll have an opportunity with tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers primarily,” said Jack Hammontree, executive director of the McMinn County Economic Development Authority.
Tier 1 suppliers usually locate closest to the assembly plant. Tier 2 suppliers may service the tier 1 companies, while tier 3 suppliers may support the tier 2 manufacturers. Therefore, tier 2 and 3 manufacturers don’t have to be so close to an assembly plant.
Mr. Hammontree said sites within 10 miles of Interstate 75 will have an advantage, adding that includes locations in North Georgia as well.
Gary Farlow, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce vice president for economic development, said it has six or seven tracts which meet the state’s criteria to hold a supplier company.
“I think we’ll be in a good position,” he said.
Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said he met with dozens of possible suppliers.
“They needed to see faces,” he said. “They needed to make contact with people from this area.”
Mr. Kisber said the recruiting trip to Berlin, Dusseldorf, Munich and Frankfurt went “exceptionally well.”
“Many suppliers said they want to visit Tennessee,” he said.
Mr. Kisber said the next step is to work with local officials to continue getting the Enterprise South site ready to begin production by early 2011.
Also, officials will follow up on contacts made in Germany, he said.
“We’ll make additional trips and do the things necessary to locate those in the state,” Mr. Kisber 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 ...