Business Briefcase: VW almost didn't come back to U.S.

Business Briefcase: VW almost didn't come back to U.S.

January 15th, 2012 by Mike Pare and Dave Flessner in Business Diary

VW almost didn't come back to U.S.

Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn said last week the German automaker had a tough time deciding to make cars in the United States again because of its bad experience in Pennsylvania, according to USA Today.

Winterkorn said at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that the closing of the Westmoreland, Pa., factory in 1988 left an enduring bad taste in Volkswagen's corporate mouth.

The Westmoreland plant, a decommissioned Chrysler plant that VW acquired, closed because "management years ago made a mistake -- making the Golf an American Golf, and the American customer wanted a German Golf," Winterkorn said.

Volkswagen announced in July 2008 it had selected Chattanooga to build another U.S. assembly plant, which began making the Passat in the spring of 2011.

State rated best for taxes, freedoms

A new study from the United States Chamber of Commerce ranks Tennessee No. 1 among the states for low taxes and limited regulations.

The 131-page study prepared by the economic research firm of Praxis Strategy Group said Tennessee's low cost of living and relatively low state and local taxes make the Volunteer State attractive for most businesses.

The study ranks Tennessee fourth lowest of the 50 states for its tax burden from both state and local governments. Tennessee ranks No. 1 for its business regulation.

"The home state of country music and Elvis' Graceland has long been known for its business-friendly legislature and for how its commissioners of economic development and revenue work together to make this 'no surprises' regulatory policy possible," the Chamber study said.

CapitalMark ups business loans

CapitalMark Bank & Trust is cited in a new Treasury Department release for boosting its lending from the Small Business Lending Fund by more than 15 percent since the program began last year.

CapitalMark received $18.2 million from the loan fund to lend to businesses with revenues up to $50 million. The SBLF, a component of the Small Business Jobs Act, was established to encourage banks with assets under $10 billion to get extra capital to boost loans to small businesses to stimulate the economy.

Only 41 percent of the banks that applied to participate in SBLF were approved, with criteria based upon strength, stability and performance.

"We were pleased to participate and were confident that we could put the funds to work, lending to businesses with solid plans and continuing to grow our bank," CapitalMark President Kenny Dyer said. "We know that the community benefits when small businesses succeed in obtaining capital to invest, expand and hire."

CapitalMark is one of 281 banks nationwide that qualified for SBLF funding totaling approximately $4 billion.

Smyna auto parts maker expands

Topre America Corp., announced last week it will open a manufacturing operation in Nissan North America's plant in Smyrna, Tenn. The location represents a multimillion-dollar investment and will add 25 jobs for the Japanese car equipment maker.

Founded in 1935 and headquartered in Tokyo, Topre started out as a manufacturer of pressed components for automobile equipment.

The company has expanded the range of industries it serves to include refrigerating machinery, airconditioning systems, electronic products and office automation equipment, in addition to automobile equipment.

In 2004, Topre launched its first overseas production and sales subsidiary, Topre America Corp., in Cullman, Ala. The Smyrna location will be the company's second U.S. location.