BERLIN, Germany — Volkswagen’s team of specialists and strong training efforts here will enable the automaker’s work force at its Chattanooga plant to make cars equal in quality to those it produces in Germany, a VW official said.
“The team we’ve set up is very good,” said Frank Fischer, manager of the assembly plant scheduled to go up at Enterprise South industrial park. “We’ve got a good network at VW.”
Beth Jones, who heads the Southeast Tennessee Development District, said training and education are keys to the Chattanooga area maximizing the impact of the facility.
THE VW PLANT
2,000 — Approximate number of plant employees
$1 billion — Approximate cost of manufacturing plant
1,350 acres — Total area of plant site at Enterprise South
2.8 percent — VW’s share of American auto market
2011 — Year auto production expected to begin
VW plant workers will equal German counterparts, official says
Assembly employees at VW’s flagship production plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, work a 34-hour week.
“If not, the company will import talent from outside,” she said.
A major part of the 1,350-acre Volkswagen campus in Chattanooga will be a training center designed to teach workers how to build the new mid-size sedan, which the automaker is counting on to help increase its American market share, now sitting at 2.8 percent.
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said the state has “put money on the table” to build the state-of-the-art training center. In addition to helping VW, the state sees its investment as a way to give Volunteer State workers skills even if they eventually leave VW, he said.
Gov. Bredesen, who led a group of East Tennesseans on a business recruitment mission to Germany this week, said Chattanooga State Technical Community College is expected to play a role in the training center.
Matt Kisber, state commissioner of the Economic and Community Development Department, said it’s too early to know exactly what the center will look like. While it will train VW workers, the company also may bring in its vehicle service technicians from around the United States “to see how things are done,” Mr. Kisber said.
Trevor Hamilton, vice president of economic development for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said Volkswagen officials did a lot of investigation of the U.S. labor market before deciding on the Scenic City as the base of its North American manufacturing operations.
“They felt the region would support the labor demands from a quantity and quality standpoint,” he said.
Part of what the Chamber, city, Hamilton County and the state must do is to help deliver that work force, Mr. Hamilton said.
Mr. Fischer said Volkswagen is within days of signing contracts to start work at the $1 billion Chattanooga facility that is to open in early 2011.
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 ...