published Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Business Briefcase: Mercedes and Nissan eye new plant

Mercedes, Nissan eye new plant

Daimler and its strategic partner Nissan are looking at a new production plant in North America, a German business magazine reported last week.

Manager Magazine said that by 2017 or 2018, Daimler would begin manufacturing the next generation Mercedes A-Class together with its strategic partner Nissan in the United States or Mexico.

Daimler plans to more than double output of Mercedes brand vehicles to 2.7 million by 2020 in its drive to become the world's largest premium car maker, the magazine reported.

Daimler wants to overtake rivals BMW and Volkswagen luxury carmaker Audi as the top maker of luxury cars by 2020.

VW Passat in ABC's 'The Middle'

The Chattanooga-made Volkswagen Passat was prominently featured in ABC's comedy "The Middle" last week.

The show was written entirely around a VW Passat, according to USA Today.

The comedy's working-class Indiana family baby-sits their neighbor's new Passat while they are in Indianapolis for pre-Super Bowl events. The mom, Frankie, ditches her Neon vehicle to drive the Passat, and she and her family spend the show demonstrating Passat features and lauding its upscale feel.

State factory pay below U.S. average

The average manufacturing workweek in Tennessee grew to 41.6 hours in December, boosting the typical factory worker's weekly paycheck to $701.79 in the Volunteer State.

The gain in workweek and pay was even greater for manufacturing workers nationwide, according to a report from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The U.S. average workweek for manufacturing employees last month was 42 hours, and the typical factory worker's paycheck nationwide averaged $803.46, or 14.5 percent more than the average in Tennessee.

TVA to use more wind power in '12

The Tennessee Valley Authority has started the new year with the addition of 535 megawatts of wind-generated power from farms in Kansas, Illinois and Iowa.

TVA began this month getting:

• 201 megawatts from ENEL Green Power's Caney River wind farm in Elk County, Kan.

• 150 megawatts from Next-Era Energy Resources' White Oak Energy Center in McLean County, Ill.

• 101 megawatts from EDP Renewables North America's Lost Lakes wind farm in Dickinson County, Iowa.

With these newly added wind power sources, TVA's total wind capacity is 950 megawatts, or more than 3 million megawatt hours annually. That amount provides enough electricity to power more than 200,000 homes in the TVA service region.

"Delivery of power from these contracts and others expected to be activated in the near future will enable TVA to continue advancing towards its vision to become one of the nation's leaders in clean energy by 2020," said John Trawick, TVA senior vice president for commercial operations and pricing.

Hagerty to lead trade mission

Tennessee's top economic recruiter, Bill Hagerty, will lead a trade mission to China and South Korea from April 15 to April 21 that will focus on Tennessee's medical device manufacturers and other health care companies.

The trip is part of TNTrade, a new initiative to help boost exports from Tennessee's small- and medium-sized businesses.

"Last year, Tennessee exported roughly $30 billion in goods; however, fewer than 2 percent of all Tennessee companies are exporters," said Hagerty, commissioner for the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Applications for businesses interested in joining the trade mission are due by Feb. 1 and may be obtained from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Outdoor theater raises prices to $7

When the Wilderness Movie Theater reopens on March 30 in Trenton, Ga., moviegoers will pay a higher admission charge.

After 61/2 years at $5, the outdoor theater's operator said last week he is raising its rates to $7 to help pay for a new digital projection system.

"This will allow us to show a wider variety and stay open longer into the winter season," the theater operator said in a Facebook posting. "The quality of the theater will remain a top priority, supplying a great value and six to seven hours of fun nightly."

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