published Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Chattanooga: VW to give 'bang for the buck,' Kisber says

Audio clip

Matt Kisber

Tennessee’s top economic developer, meeting today in Germany with possible Volkswagen suppliers, says the Chattanooga plant will create the jobs and impact originally envisioned.

“I’m not worried it will provide as much bang for the buck,” said Matt Kisber, state economic and community development commissioner.

Despite the economic slump, he said he and Gov. Phil Bredesen believe Volkswagen is “an anchor project that will draw thousands more automotive jobs to the state.”

VW is “a strong company” and well positioned in the market, said Mr. Kisber, who will talk about opportunities in the state for German companies at the Southeastern Automotive Supplier Forum in Hanover, Germany.

He’ll join Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, state Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr and Trevor Hamilton, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for economic development.

  • photo
    Workers check a VW Golf at the assembly line of the Volkswagen plant in Zwickau, Germany.

Mr. Hamilton said the group also will build ties with officials of Lower Saxony, the state where VW is headquartered and 20 percent owner of the car maker. Mr. Hamilton said the delegation will see how VW manages training at its main Wolfsburg plant and visit a supplier park in Emden.

He said Mr. Farr will be available to speak to German companies about tax credits Tennessee offers.

“He’s part of the incentive discussion,” Mr. Hamilton said.

Frank Fischer, VW’s chief executive in Chattanooga, will also take part in the forum with the Tennessee delegation.

Mr. Kisber said now is the time for Tennessee to double its marketing efforts to woo companies and follow up on a recruiting trip last October.

“VW is further along in selecting its suppliers,” he said.

Mr. Kisber said the forum is a chance to show suppliers what VW knows — that Tennessee is emerging as “the central hub of the growing Southern automotive industry.”

VW CONTRACTS

CAR TO DATE, MORE THAN $204 MILLION IN LOCAL CONTRACTS HAVE BEEN AWARDED BY THE CITY, STATE AND VOLKSWAGEN, ACCORDING TO VW.

To lure VW, it’s estimated that tax breaks amounting to $577.4 million will be spent or given up by governments.

Volkswagen plans to invest $1 billion in the local economy for the plant and create 2,000 jobs at the plant slated to start production in early 2011.

A University of Tennessee study has shown the new Volkswagen plant is expected to generate $12 billion in income growth and an additional 9,500 jobs over the life of the project.

After visiting Germany, Mr. Kisber will travel to Beijing, China, and meet with government and business leaders, he said.

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about Mike Pare...

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 ...

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