published Sunday, February 19th, 2012

VW, Amazon, other investments make Chattanooga's prospects bright

In some ways, Chattanooga has been a beacon of economic hope during the recession that seized our nation and the anemic recovery that has followed.

Of course, the Chattanooga area has suffered high unemployment just as the rest of the nation has. We have also had our share of foreclosures and other troubles.

And some nearby areas have suffered even more. You might have read, for instance, that from December 2010 to December 2011, the Dalton, Ga., area had the third-highest drop in employment of any of the United States' 372 metropolitan areas -- behind only Missoula, Mont., and Abilene, Texas. Dalton's textile industry has taken a major hit in the economic downturn.

So obviously many people in our region as well as across the country are facing serious financial challenges.

But it is not looking at things through rose-colored glasses to point out that Chattanooga has not only weathered the recession but is making some important economic strides.

On a recent visit to Chattanooga, Gov. Bill Haslam toured Internet retailer Amazon's new, 1 million-square-foot distribution center at Enterprise South industrial park. The facility currently has 1,700 employees, and a separate Amazon distribution center in Bradley County has 400 more. That 2,100-employee total at the two facilities is expected to swell to roughly 3,500 around Christmas when seasonal workers are hired.

Clearly that's good news, but Amazon hinted at the possibility of still more development in Hamilton County.

Paul Misener, Amazon's director of global public policy, noted that the Chattanooga site is called "Chattanooga One" -- implying that there may be more facilities in Chattanooga in the future.

"The 'One's' suggestive," he said.

Meanwhile, the huge Volkswagen manufacturing plant, also at Enterprise South, seems only to have just begun showering economic benefits on Chattanooga as well.

The billion-dollar plant, which produces the popular and highly acclaimed Passat sedan, already employs 2,500 people. But Volkswagen announced recently that an additional 200 people would be hired, and that it is boosting production of Passats from the current 31 to 35 -- per hour!

In the original announcement in 2008 that VW would be building in Chattanooga, officials said the facility would create about 2,000 jobs. But with the total 2,700 soon to be on board at VW, our community will be enjoying 700 more jobs than first projected.

"Recruiting VW proved to be the gift that keeps on giving," said J.Ed. Marston, vice president of marketing for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

Even more tantalizing is talk that Audi, a division of Volkswagen, could build vehicles at a new local plant, or that a second VW of some type could be built at the existing Chattanooga plant.

Nothing is certain at this point, but either of those possibilities would generate more jobs and economic activity in and around the city.

It is also worth pointing out that Hamilton County's unemployment rate, 7.2 percent, is markedly lower than the nationwide 8.3 percent joblessness rate and the 8.7 percent unemployment rate in Tennessee.

Our nation has a long way to go before our economy truly recovers. But in the Chattanooga area, prospects for economic growth and prosperity are bright.

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aae1049 said...

The Public Relations arm for the Chamber of Commerce has spoken. The TFP should consider telling the folks the truth through journalism principles, and letting the people decide.

The pr myth that giving buckets of taxpayer dollars to corporations is going to save Chattanooga economically is comical. Chattanooga's bond debt service, and lack of growth revenue is not sustainable, and will not amortize. That is why Chattanooga gov. is on the push to defray debt service to unincorporated Hamilton County through with Annexation or Metropolitan government. Chattanooga's total bond debt has topped at $436 million due to Corp gifting of our tax dollars and Swaption bond scam losses of $15 million. City Government is untruthful and claims only $40 million went to VW. That is complete untruth to the citizens, because the infrastructure investment far exceeded the $40 million in bond issues. At the same time, Chattanooga has exempted these Corp from all local taxes, the gifting will not amortize on the taxpayers side. The bond debt is quantifiable and real, and the rate of return does not jive when they are all exempted from local taxes for 30 to 14 years.

February 19, 2012 at 10:22 a.m.
aae1049 said...

It is important to note the City’s 10 percent debt rule by ordinance. The City of Chattanooga by ordinance has debt ceiling that cannot exceed 10 percent of total property assessment value. The total property values or assessments determine the amount of debt they can incur. In 2010, the City's mismanagement and bond scam cost the taxpayers $15 million, with stroke of pen. The TFP won't tell the full story about that taxpayer robbery either.

As property assessed values increase, the City’s ability to incur more bond debt increases proportionally. The City's ability to leverage revenue from the tax base determines their bond rating. The last tax increase of 19 percent is related to their bond issue, issues, as I fondly refer to this.

The Chamber of Commerce and others entrenched in our tax dollars have a direct financial interest in defraying bond debt across the entire population of Hamilton County, so the windfall of fees and deals can continue.

TFP the only thing that stands between the public resources and robbery, Is the truth and journalism, I so wish you would exercise that responsibility.

February 19, 2012 at 11:25 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Thanks for allowing commenting, I feel better now.

February 19, 2012 at 11:25 a.m.
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