Chattanooga State to own, run VW training site

Chattanooga State to own, run VW training site

January 14th, 2009 by Mike Pare in Business

Volkswagen's planned state-of-the-art training center at Enterprise South industrial park will be owned and operated by Chattanooga State Technical Community College, according to officials.

"That was the way it was negotiated from the beginning," said CSTCC President James Catanzaro.

The $40 million building will connect with the main plant via a bridge over a wetlands area, according to planners, making the span the main way in and out of the plant for workers and visitors.

According to VW, the training center will be the first building people will see after the planned welcome center near Interstate 75.

Don Jackson, the VW project's president, said work on the 100,000-square-foot training center will be finished by fall. The center will focus on production processes, automotive components and contain corporate and apprentice facilities.

Tom Edd Wilson, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's chief executive, said training will be critical for VW.

"They will spend a lot of time in training," he said.

Dr. Catanzaro called the training center construction schedule "very aggressive."

"We're making every effort to have it ready," he said.

The college president said the set-up is unusual among VW's nearly 50 plants worldwide. City, Hamilton County, state and federal funds are expected to pay for the building and/or operation of the center.

Dr. Catanzaro said he and others traveled to Germany for more than three days to talk with officials about their needs for the planned facility. In addition, he said CSTCC officials may go to Portugal to see a VW training center there as well.

Production at the $1 billion plant will start in early 2011, according to VW. The facility is expected to hold 2,000 employees and make about 150,000 vehicles annually.