Eyes of world on Chattanooga with VW announcement

Eyes of world on Chattanooga with VW announcement

July 15th, 2014 by Mike Pare in Local - Breaking News

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Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said today that "the eyes of the world" are on the city with Volkswagen's plans to more than double its workforce to about 4,400 jobs at its plant here and invest $600 million.

Berke joined with federal, state, local and VW officials at the Hunter Museum, along with more than 300 people, to mark Monday's announcement that the German automaker will build its new sport utility vehicle in Chattanooga.

"I'd say three words. Oh happy day!" said Christian Koch, who heads VW's Chattanooga operations, to the group.

Koch said the second line will greatly expand and increase the plant's impact in the Chattanooga community.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said the National Research & Development and Planning Center that VW intends to create in Chattanooga, along with 200 engineering jobs, is a first for a Southern auto plant.

"There's not one anywhere in the South," the Tennessee Republican said.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the number of jobs was greater than Tennessee officials had originally anticipated, going from 1,350 to 2,000.

Corker cited the transformation of Chattanooga over the last 30 years. One piece the city needed was a "world-class auto manufacturer to locate" in Hamilton County, he said.

"Thank you for completing that vision," Corker said to the VW officials.

See more in Wednesday's Times Free Press.