Supplier park open

Supplier park open

October 1st, 2010 by Mike Pare in Volkswagen

Volkswagen unveiled its Chattanooga supplier park Thursday, and before officials pushed a button to start up an assembly line, there was talk of expansion.

"There's more room for extending it at a later point, but first we have to get the baby going," said Frank Fischer, VW's chief executive for operations in Chattanooga, citing the automaker's adjacent assembly plant.

Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Rick Rickenbaker, left, speaks about the front axle line while leading a training class at the VW supplier park on September 30, 2010.

Staff photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press...

VW also named a seventh supplier to locate in the facility as Amsterdam-based logistics company Ceva announced it will create 140 jobs.

Fischer said Ceva will place parts in the right sequence for workers at the factory as they assemble a yet-unnamed midsize sedan starting early next year.

In all, about 500 jobs have been announced by companies in the supplier park, consisting of two buildings about the size of nine football fields, according to VW. It was developed by VW with a $21 million loan from Bank of America.

The jobs number is in addition to the more than 2,000 people VW will employ at the assembly plant when operations are fully ramped up.

Steve Barr, chief executive of one of the suppliers in the park, Chattanooga Seating Systems, said it plans to run two eight-hour shifts for its 140 workers.

"We're extremely proud to help VW power up the state-of-the-art supplier park," he said. "VW is a highly valued customer with clear goals."

Jeffery Hurley, a senior vice president for Ceva, said that where auto companies go, it follows.

"That's our core business," he said.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield termed the supplier park "grand space."

"I'm sure it will be filling up fast and there will be a need for more space," he said.

Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey said he plans to continue to work toward providing the companies with an educated, trainable work force.

"It's a special time," he said.

Tom Edd Wilson, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's CEO, said one reason the supplier park was built is because there was the available land next to the 2 million-square-foot plant.

"More land is available for other suppliers," he said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.