Corker: An open letter to Chattanoogans

photo Sen. Bob Corker

Dear Chattanoogans,

Companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence in Tennessee. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies and engaged citizenry.

That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South's first automotive research and development center in Chattanooga was possible. I could not be more excited about Volkswagen's deepened commitment to our state and for the thousands of Tennesseans who will benefit from the high-quality jobs that will be added.

I will never forget the moment in 2008 when I got the call from Volkswagen officials with news that the company would come to Chattanooga. That call was the culmination of a decades-long vision our community developed with the goal of attracting a major, international manufacturing company to our city.

A key reason that was possible was because of the foundation my colleague, Lamar Alexander, laid with the recruitment of Nissan in the 1980s, which started a process that has allowed Tennessee to become one of the most important automotive states.

On July 15, six years to the day since Volkswagen first announced it was coming to the Volunteer State, we celebrated the news that the company will significantly grow its presence in my hometown.

It has not been an easy road. Over the past several months, you have watched the debate about Volkswagen's decision to expand play out in public. I know some viewed the path we took as controversial, but there was no other road that would have led us to this great outcome.

The number of jobs Volkswagen will add is far more than anyone anticipated. Through Gov. Bill Haslam's tenacity and the hard work of his economic development team, we were able to greatly expand Volkswagen's commitment by also securing the research and development center, bringing the total number of new jobs from 1,350 to 2,000 and an investment of $600 million in Tennessee.

Because jobs in the auto industry have such a significant multiplier effect, we expect this investment to create thousands of indirect jobs, helping solidify Tennessee as the place for automobile manufacturing in our country.

There are many to thank for this success.

The employees at Volkswagen Chattanooga have built a nationally recognized car, causing the company to want to double down on their investment.

Mayors Jim Coppinger and Andy Berke, the County Commission and City Council, and Ron Harr and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce all deserve credit for helping to make this announcement possible.

And Volkswagen partnered with us to complete the vision we had of bringing a world-class manufacturer to Chattanooga.

You also played an important role in attracting Volkswagen to our city. It is the unique way we unite around a bold vision and work together to make it a reality. It's the Chattanooga Way.

There are few things I cherish more than coming home every weekend to the community and state I love. There is no place quite like Tennessee, which is why we are catching the attention of so many around the world. I believe even more great things are yet to come as we continue working together to bring high-quality jobs to the state by making the most of the unique assets for which Tennessee is known.

Bob Corker, who served as Chattanooga mayor from 2001-205, is a U.S. senator for Tennessee.