City, German businesses look beyond first $2 billion in investments

City, German businesses look beyond first $2 billion in investments

February 19th, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

BY THE NUMBERS

* 1,500 -- German companies in the South

* $200 billion -- Investment by German firms in region

* 650,000 -- Employees of the German companies

Source: German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S.

The Chattanooga area, already brimming with more than $2 billion in planned investment by German companies, could be in for even more.

"The opportunities are there for this part of the state in particular," said Peter Caldwell, president of the Tennessee chapter of the German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S.

The Brentwood, Tenn., businessman spoke Friday in Chattanooga at the kick-off meeting of the Chamber's Southeast Tennessee group, noting German and U.S. business ties can lead to jobs and wealth.

"It creates an opportunity for commerce," he said about the Chamber's activities at the meeting at Chattanooga wind tower maker SIAG Aerisyn where more than 75 people turned out.

Within the last three years, Volkswagen and Wacker Chemical have each announced plans to invest $1 billion in area plants. Also, a handful of other German companies have unveiled plans to invest and hire in the Chattanooga area.

SIAG Schaaf Industrie AG in 2009 bought Aerisyn LLC's plant off Riverfront Parkway with plans invest $3 million and add 120 jobs.

Karsten Freytag of SIAG said the company aims to be up to 120 employees, not including over a dozen support personnel from Germany.

"It's a good start to the year," he said.

Rosemarie Bryan of the Chattanooga law firm Chambliss Bahner & Stophel, which counts VW as a client, said German businesses talk to each other.

"I think [the Chattanooga area] is on a roll," she said. "I think it's going to be an attractive area."

Cleveland, Tenn., businessman Christian Hoeferle, who helped organize Friday's meeting, said he'd like to see the local chapter grow.

"Connections only hurt people who don't have them," he said.