Progress at Wacker facility

Progress at Wacker facility

October 23rd, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

A great deal of attention has justifiably been focused on Volkswagen's new, billion-dollar manufacturing plant at Enterprise South industrial park.

But a huge project is under way in nearby Bradley County as well. The Times Free Press reported recently that foundation work has begun for some of the buildings at the Wacker polysilicon production plant near Charleston, Tenn.

Three million to 4 million cubic feet of dirt has been moved for the project, and approximately 1 million feet of pipe is slated to be installed at the $1.5 billion facility.

Wacker, a Germany company, expects to bring the Bradley County plant online by late 2013, and it will have 30 to 40 structures spread out over 550 acres. It is extremely encouraging to note as well that Wacker expects to have as many as 3,000 construction workers at the site by the middle of 2012.

The project manager, Martin Richtberg, told the Times Free Press, "We're ramping up quickly now."

While the nature of Wacker's work -- producing polysilicon, a key ingredient for solar power panels -- may not ultimately require as many full-time, permanent employees as the VW plant in Hamilton County needs, the 650 workers whom Wacker does plan to hire to run the plant represent a major economic development in Bradley County.

In addition, Wacker is not currently using all of the acreage that it has available in Bradley County, so there is room for significant expansion, Richtberg said. While no decision has been made on when such an expansion could take place, the prospect is no doubt exciting news for area residents.

We wish Wacker and the people of Bradley County and surrounding areas every success as this exciting project moves forward.