When most Americans think of cities in Germany, the ones that probably spring to mind are metropolises such as Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.
But for residents of Chattanooga, a much smaller German city has special significance: Wolfsburg, home of Volkswagen Group. Volkswagen's new, billion-dollar plant at Enterprise South industrial park employs thousands of our area's residents.
And now, Wolfsburg has appropriately joined five other cities around the world on the list of Chattanooga's Sister Cities. The others are Hamm, Germany; Givatayim, Israel; Nizhnii Tagil, Russia; Gangneung, South Korea; and Wuxi, China.
Our city recently hosted Lord Mayor Rolf Schnellecke of Wolfsburg, and he participated in a document-signing with Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield that formalized the Sister City designation. There was also a tree planting in the Peace Garden at Coolidge Park to mark the designation.
For residents of this area who might not know a great deal about Wolfsburg, here is a quick snapshot of our newest Sister City:
* It's in Lower Saxony, a state in northern Germany.
* With about 120,000 people, it's somewhat smaller than Chattanooga, which has roughly 170,000 residents.
* A huge museum in Wolfsburg, the Autostadt, is dedicated to automobiles.
We are pleased to be in close association with Wolfsburg, both for the obvious financial tie Chattanooga now has with Volkswagen and for reasons of simple friendship.
Schnellecke emphasized that bond during his remarks at Chattanooga City Hall.
"Thank you for your wonderful feeling of friendship," he said.
And we thank the people of Wolfsburg and VW alike for their beneficial interest and investment in our city.