Volkswagen's $800 million pledge to expand its Chattanooga production plant to assemble electric vehicles tops the region's biggest investments for 2019.
VW Chattanooga Chief Executive Officer Tom du Plessis said during a November groundbreaking that the move is "really bold" and "another leap forward" for electric mobility.
He noted the trust that the German automaker has in an electric vehicle future and in Chattanooga, adding that production is taking place in the Scenic City and not in California.
"It's a new exciting journey," du Plessis said.
Just a month earlier in Dayton, Tennessee, Nokian Tyres marked the opening of what its officials say is one of the most modern tire production plants in the world and the company's largest-ever individual investment.
The Finland-based company's $360 million factory is 830,000 square feet in size. It's expected to have as many as 150 employees early next year. Nokian plans to have 400 workers on board when the plant is at full production, making 4 million tires annually.
"It was built on time and on budget," said Nokian Tyres Chief Executive Hille Korhonen about the company's first plant in the United States.
Meanwhile, in Dalton, Georgia, a Korean manufacturer has added what its officials say is a factory making rooftop solar panels and other modules for utility-solar power generation in a $150 million investment.
Hanwha Q Cells USA celebrated the completion of the largest solar module manufacturing plant in North America, which will produce enough solar panels to generate as much peak power as the Hoover Dam every year.
"This is a fantastic technology in an emerging industry and it's great to see this type of manufacturing come to Georgia," said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp after touring the plant. "This is not only great for the people employed here but it will also helps our farmers who are putting up solar farms all over our state."
In Chattanooga's key logistics sector, Arrive Logistics announced it had raised another $25 million for future expansion with plans to add 500 jobs.
The freight brokerage company was founded in 2014 and has grown to more than 800 employees with offices in Chicago, Chattanooga, and Austin, Texas. In 2019, the company expected revenue of more than $600 million.
"We have doubled revenue for four consecutive years with our relentless focus on building the best team and technology in the domestic truckload market," said Matt Pyatt, CEO and co-founder of Arrive Logistics. "We have done this by utilizing data to hire the right people, investing heavily in their training and retention as well as focusing our technology investments on what makes our team the most efficient in the industry."
Pyatt said the additional $25 million will further accelerate the growth of Arrive, which was already planning a $3.6 million expansion in Chattanooga.
Charles Wood, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of economic development, said that when it comes to logistics, the business group is looking to continue to grow white-collar jobs.
"We're not necessarily looking for warehouse," he said, adding that the Chamber wants to build off of the sector's growing presence in the Chattanooga area. "It's one of the sectors in the marketplace where our existing business leaders are actively supporting our recruiting efforts."
Wood said that Arrive came to Chattanooga's attention when the CEOs of two other businesses in that segment made introductions.
"To actively have corporate leaders supporting those industries makes it much easier for us," he said.
Wood said that not all industry sectors are like that because they're worried about the availability of talent.
The latest capital infusion for Arrive Logistics is part of more than $300 million of equity capital raised in just the past year for the growth of trucking and logistics companies in Chattanooga's freight alley.
Business Editor Dave Flessner contributed to this story.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.