Talking Turkey, city eyes growth

Talking Turkey, city eyes growth

March 2nd, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Mevlut Tascan poses for a head shot before touring Kordsa Inc. on Monday morning. Staff Photo by Angela Lewis.

Nylon cord maker Kordsa has ramped up Chattanooga operations with the tire industry's revival, bringing key machinery back on line after the global downturn and returning its work force to about 250.

"We're running at full capacity," said Jim DelPiano, operations director at the North Access Road business located in a portion of the former DuPont plant now known as Invista.

Kordsa, whose parent company is in Turkey, this week showed off the local plant to a group of Turkish business people and economic development officials.

Mevlut Tascan, executive director of the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast U.S., said the aim is to bolster business between the region and Turkey.

A Tennessee chapter of the Chamber opened earlier this year in Nashville, he said. That's an expansion following the establishment of the Turkish-American Chamber in Atlanta a few years ago that has reaped rewards, Tascan said.

"Georgia exports (to Turkey) have increased 400 percent in the last three years," he said. "We want to do the same here."

Trevor Hamilton, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of economic development, said local officials talked to the Turkish group about next steps to spur ties.

"Chattanooga, more so than ever before, has an opportunity to build business relationships abroad," he said, noting the city has had a lot of success recently wooing investment from foreign firms such as Alstom, Volkswagen, SIAG Aerisyn and Sanofi-Aventis.

Kordsa purchased the yarn operation from DuPont in 2005. The yarn has various uses in rubber, including tires.

"We're the largest producer of industrial nylon for tire applications in the world," DelPiano said.

He said 90 percent of production in Chattanooga is used in the United States, with the remainder sent mostly to Asian markets such as China and Indonesia.

Alp Levent poses for a head shot before touring Kordsa Inc. on Monday morning. Staff Photo by Angela Lewis

Alp Levent, who heads the Tennessee chapter, said Turkish companies are eager to invest abroad and in the U.S.

He said Turkey's government also offers companies incentives to help make investing abroad more attractive.

Wendell O'Reilly, a Chattanooga attorney with Mc-Koon, Williams and Haun who helped arrange the local visit by the Turkish group, said his firm works with Turkish companies.

Turkey is an American ally, and growing business ties is an opportunity for this region, he said.