Enterprise South industrial park has received foreign trade zone status, which an official said Monday could serve as a cost saver to an auto company such as Volkswagen.
“Very much so,” said Gary Farlow, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of auto industries use foreign trade zones to defer or eliminate import duties.”
Volkswagen AG is eyeing Tennessee as a site for a new assembly plant, and some auto industry observers believe the 1,600-acre Enterprise South tract makes sense for the German car maker.
Enterprise South is one of a handful of parcels newly named as FTZs in Southeast Tennessee.
In addition to all of Enterprise South, other Hamilton County properties include sites in Bonny Oaks Industrial and Office Park, the JIT Terminal on Manufacturers Road and a Kenco facility on Polymer Drive.
Also, industrial sites in Bradley and Warren counties and the Nickajack Port in Marion County received FTZ designation, said Trevor Hamilton, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for economic development.
Mr. Hamilton said businesses in the region becomes more competitive in terms of international trade activity with the 5,000-acre FTZ expansion.
“Job creation in one county ripples through the regional economy creating job growth for the whole area,” Mr. Hamilton said.
Mayor Ron Littlefield said in a statement FTZ expansion supports the advantage of Chattanooga’s proximity to major U.S. population centers.
Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey expects the FTZs to create new jobs in Chattanooga and boost employment growth in nearby counties.
The expansion was approved by the FTZ Board in Washington, D.C.
Before the expansion, the FTZ in Hamilton was limited to 230 acres in Centre South Riverport.
Mr. Farlow said the FTZ in Bradley includes two industrial parks.
He said if a company is importing a lot of components, the FTZ helps cash flow and reduces some costs.
Mr. Farlow said if an auto manufacturer has a lot of imported parts, an FTZ reduces the amount of duty the company will have to pay.
“It also will enhance our industrial recruitment efforts by giving potential new companies another reason to choose Southeast Tennessee for their manufacturing and distribution facilities,” he said.
Marion County Mayor Howell Moss said he anticipates new trading opportunities, job development and industry.
Officials announced almost a year ago they were working for expanded FTZ designation.
Last week, Volkswagen said it has narrowed its list of states competing for a potential U.S. production facility to Tennessee, Alabama, and Michigan.
The German automaker said it was still evaluating whether to build a new plant in the United States and would make a final decision this summer.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...