Chattanooga, TN – The recent announcement that Chattanooga had been picked as the site of the new $1 billion Volkswagen U.S. plant marked the beginning of a new chapter for the city of Chattanooga, Hamilton County and the entire state of Tennessee. The decision, which was finalized on July 15th, was the result of months of hard work on the part of local, state and federal officials. What many people don’t know, however, is that a key element that went into helping Volkswagen (VW) officials make their final decision on the site location was broadband technology.
Last year, Volkswagen announced plans to build a new U.S. plant and began assessing various sites for potential locations. While many sites were considered, Alabama, Michigan and Tennessee took the lead earlier this year and became the final three contenders. After VW and site consultants paid a visit to the proposed Chattanooga location, they decided more work needed to be done on the site. That’s when the Chief Information Officer for the City of Chattanooga, Mark Keil, suggested they set up live web cameras that would allow remote users to view the work as it was happening. Shortly thereafter, three cameras were set up on poles that allowed VW officials to watch the site in real time. “The cameras were a pretty convincing piece of evidence that we were serious,” explains Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield.
Chattanooga officials were able to set up a system where the web address, along with passwords, was sent to the VW group. VW officials were even able to control the cameras to view the portions of the site that they wanted to see – all the way from Germany! “Volkswagen could view the site from Germany on their computers in real time,” says Mayor Littlefield. “It was just one of those extra things that made the site real and tangible.”
The new plant will be located right outside downtown Chattanooga in the Enterprise South Industrial Park and should be completed by the end of 2010. And while the plant’s presence is initially expected to bring around 2,000 direct jobs to Chattanooga and the surrounding areas, Mayor Littlefield says the positive ripple effect will be felt for a long time to come.
“Over the next decade, this plant will probably be responsible for bringing 25,000 jobs to the area,” he says. “This is the big break Chattanooga has been praying for and waiting on for years.”
Production at the plant is set to kick off in early 2011.