published Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Corker hails VW green technology

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker cited Volkswagen's green technology initiatives in the building of its Chattanooga plant, saying the factory will be "the most environmentally sound manufacturing facility in the world."

"The way they're going about building this facility ... with the newest technology that's available making automobiles," he said after an hourlong tour of the plant.

Ironically, Sen. Corker, R-Chattanooga, said the city came close to not meeting the federal environmental emissions standards to attract an auto assembly plant such as VW's.

"I don't think people realize how close we came to being in a position in which our community could not actually even recruit a facility like this," he said.

But the senator noted city and Hamilton County efforts to slash air pollution to make sure the area met environmental standards.

Frank Fischer, VW's chief executive for the Chattanooga operation, said the green features of the plant, slated to open in little over a year, fits with the city's efforts.

According to VW, the plant will hold a bevy of features to save energy and money, including efficient electric motors and stormwater recycling.

Sen. Corker said people don't realize yet how the jobs the $1 billion plant and its suppliers will produce affect the region for years to come. The plant and spinoff companies are expected to create 11,477 jobs, according to a University of Tennessee study.

  • photo
    Staff photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., right, listens as Frank Fischer, CEO of Chattanooga Operations for Volkswagen, talks to media following a tour of the Volkswagen plant on Monday.

Sen. Corker lauded partnerships which helped woo the German automaker.

He said the city and county cleared the Enterprise South industrial park site even before VW picked Chattanooga and helped put the project on schedule.

"It's a testament to people coming together with a vision and sticking together," Sen. Corker said.

County Commissioner Bill Hullander said he's impressed with the project's pace.

"There will be a lot of changes out here," he said.

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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sideviews said...

In Bob Corker's own house two years ago, more than $1 billion of tax incentives, infrastructure improvements, job credits and tax abatements from state, local and federal governments were offered to Volkswagen over the next 30 years to lure VW to Chattanooga. Sen. Corker says he opposes industrial policy and the TARP aid given last year to help save GM and Chrysler. Did anyone ask Mr. Corker why he supports the most generous government subsidies ever given for an single manufacturing plant in U.S. history for VW in his hometown while opposing other government assistance for U.S.-based car makers? I'm glad VW came to Chattanooga and the incentives were necessary to get the car maker to locate in Chattanooga, not Alabama. Volkswagen, which is partially owned by the government and its labor unions, is an international example of success using government health care in its home country (Germany), government and labor union partnerships in Germany and other countries and significant government assistance in the United States. VW is a shining success story, as Mr. Corker says. But their success shows that government isn't always the enemy of business and for VW may be key to their success.

February 16, 2010 at 10:49 a.m.
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