Bill Haslam heads to Europe to lure more foreign direct investment

Gestamp CEO Francisco J. Riberas, second from left, talks with Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, left, while Gestamp North America President Jeff Wilson, second from right, and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger listen during an announcement of Gestamp's expansion two years ago. The plant expansion is part of $4 billion of investments made in Southeast Tennessee over the past decade by European-based industries.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and the state's chief economic recruiter, Bob Rolfe, will head to Europe next week for an economic development trip designed to strengthen Tennessee's ties with European businesses, which have already opened more than 500 facilities in the Volunteer State.

During the weeklong trip that starts Monday, Haslam and Rolfe will pitch Tennessee's advantages to businesses in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Germany.

The biggest investments made in Southeast Tennessee over the past decade have come from European-based companies, including more than $1.6 billion by the German-based Volkswagen for its Chattanooga assembly plant, a $2.5 billion polysilicon production facility in Charleston by the German-based Wacker Chemical, a $360 million tire plant announced last month by the Finland-based Nokian Tyre plant in Dayton, and the $180 million expansion of the Spain-based Gestamp in Chattanooga.

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