Biggest investment in our area!

Biggest investment in our area!

April 13th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

Chattanooga and our surrounding area have been blessed with a number of major economic development investments over the past few years.

They have included such companies as Volkswagen, Amazon and Alstom Power.

And last Friday, Gov. Bill Haslam was on hand in neighboring Bradley County for the groundbreaking for the single biggest private investment ever in Southeast Tennessee!

Wacker Chemical plans to invest a stunning $1.45 billion in its plant not far from Chattanooga, near Charleston and Cleveland.

Wacker hopes to begin operations in early 2014, just three short years away. It will make polysilicon used in the production of solar panels. About 650 employees are expected to be hired, besides the hundreds more involved in the construction of the facility.

And Wacker's investment may well grow over time. Almost all of the anticipated output of the plant's first year has been sold in advance, and the size of the site where the plant is being built will provide for expansion as needed, Rudolf Staudigl, chief executive officer of Wacker's Germany-based parent company, told those attending the groundbreaking.

The governor remarked on the additional economic advantages that Wacker's huge investment will generate for the region.

Besides the prospect of suppliers setting up shop nearby, "[Y]ou get some reputation benefit," he said. "When people see a company like Wacker make a $1.5 billion investment in your state, they think there must be a reason ... and they become interested."

That interest is justified. Tennessee has remained a low-tax, fiscally conservative state. Sustaining those principles over time should help Tennessee attract additional investments that will benefit everyone.