The top two Volkswagen officials overseeing the automaker’s planned $1 billion plant in Chattanooga on Tuesday lauded the site the company is counting on to turbocharge its American presence.
“I think it’s perfect,” said Frank Fischer, who will serve as manager and chief executive of the Enterprise South industrial park facility.
Mr. Fischer and Don Jackson, the automaker’s plant president in the city, met with Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce officials along with other business and political leaders.
Today, the two men who took on their posts officially about a week ago will tour Enterprise South and the 1,340 acres that will hold VW’s new 2,000-employee facility when finished in about two years.
Mr. Fischer, 46, said he originally visited Enterprise South in June when Chattanooga was engaged with a battle with Huntsville, Ala., for what will be Volkswagen’s only plant in the United States.
“We did a very careful site selection,” said the former manager of Volkswagen’s component plant in Brunswick, Germany.
Mr. Fischer said VW actually had its pick of more than 100 sites before settling on Chattanooga’s.
Mr. Jackson, most recently vice president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Texas, said the site selection process was “one of the best I’ve seen.”
Mr. Jackson, whose previous experience includes 16 years at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, said he met Tuesday with Chattanooga State Technical Community College officials.
“They were very supportive,” he said about officials at the college that will be involved with much of the training of the plant’s work force.
Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey said work prepping VW’s 1,350-acre site is moving along well, and he’s hopeful of meeting the Nov. 1 deadline by which VW wants to start actual plant construction.
“It’s a plus for us,” he said about having Mr. Fischer and Mr. Jackson on board in Chattanooga.
Matt Kisber, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner, said the two VW managers will be points of contact, though he’ll stay in touch with VW’s entire project team.
“They’ll play a key role,” he said.
Mr. Fischer said he is “very impressed” with Tennessee and especially liked Chattanooga’s mountains.
“I very much look forward to being here,” 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 ...