Hamilton County is chasing a business that could bring 2,000 jobs -- more than 1,000 of them full time -- to Chattanooga.
An 80-acre tract at Enterprise South industrial park near the Volkswagen plant is the potential site for some sort of Internet-based business, according to County Commission Chairman Fred Skillern and Commissioner Larry Henry.
The county's permit application for the site, filed with state environmental regulators, said the business would have a "distribution facility that will be occupied by a large commercial tenant. ... The tenant anticipates the need to hire approximately 2,000 employees to staff the facility."
"I think it's got maybe to do with e-mail-ordering products online," Henry said about the possible new addition. "I've heard that it might be along the lines of a warehouse."
On the application, the venture is code-named "Project Infinity."
The application calls for construction of a 1 million-square-foot facility, truck bays and parking for trailers and multiple entrance and exit points.
The project would be next to Erlanger hospital's planned new facility and across Volkswagen Drive from the VW auto assembly plant expected to employ between 2,000 and 2,500 people when it opens early next year.
Skillern and Henry both said the unnamed facility could provide 1,000 permanent, full-time jobs and possibly another 1,000 seasonal jobs.
"During the holidays, they might have more help," Henry said.
Skillern said the site's proximity to Erlanger was a big selling point for the unidentified company.
"They will have health services better than anywhere else they looked at," Skillern said.
Mayor Claude Ramsey put on his best poker face at the end of the Hamilton County Commission meeting Wednesday when asked about the new facility. He confirmed the county is courting a business but wouldn't say anything more.
"There is a company interested in coming to Chattanooga," Ramsey said. "Whether they come or not, I don't know."
Ramsey said the county intends to offer incentives, which in the past have come in the form of tax breaks, if the business decides to locate here.
Other local elected officials likely will deal with the project soon.
Chattanooga City Council Chairman Manny Rico said Wednesday he expects council members to talk about the business at Tuesday's committee meetings.
"They're wanting to fast-track it," he said.
J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of marketing, declined comment Wednesday.
He had said earlier that the city and county already own the Enterprise South tract, and a site alteration permit could be issued in about a month if the process goes well.
A wetland of three-tenths of an acre would be affected, according to the application.
Tim Spires, chief executive of the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association, said the potential new company would be "a great addition."
"We hope it's jobs that pay and can boost the economy," he said.
Spires said companies that market consumer goods are going toward larger distribution centers with more workers rather than many smaller centers spread out across the country.
Bringing another 1,000 to 2,000 people to jobs at Enterprise South is expected to put even more strain on the area's roads.
Fritz Brogdon of planning firm Volkert & Associates said it already has recommended the city make improvements, including widening Hickory Valley Road and Bonny Oaks Drive and building a new state road from state Highway 58 to VW's supplier park.
Staff writer Cliff Hightower contributed to this story.