“I think the simple answer is yes,” said Trevor Hamilton, vice president of economic development with the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. “It will be interesting to see how the supply chain develops. I think it’s a little too early to tell the impact within a certain radius.”
Hamilton was speaking to the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, which drew participants from 13 Northwest Georgia counties.
He said that in March 2008 Volkswagen announced it had narrowed its search for its first American manufacturing plant to three sites, one in Alabama, one in Michigan and Chattanooga. The other two sites had the advantage of being on flat land, whereas the Chattanooga site was hilly, Hamilton said. But the Chattanooga site had its own advantage: existing infrastructure, including a rail line.
Local officials decided to remove their disadvantage and in May began clearing and preparing the land without a commitment from Volkswagen. That was key to winning the plant, Hamilton said.
“On VW’s next site visit, they could see visible evidence of our commitment and ability to come together to get things done.”
The city also placed cameras around the land and created a password-protected Web site so that the car-maker could follow progress from its offices in Germany.
Hamilton said marketing Chattanooga’s quality of life and environmental commitment also impressed Volkswagen officials.
Developing the 6,000 acres is an ecological improvement to the brownfield site, a former U.S. Army munitions depot, Hamilton said. The city will maintain approximately half of the land as parks with walking and biking trails.
Click here to see a map of the Enterprise South Industrial Park, where the Volkswagen plant will be in Chattanooga.