published Friday, August 20th, 2010

VW Team moving back to Chamber


More than 800 supplier jobs for Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant have been announced so far.

Most of the Volkswagen Team, the special unit created to focus on helping the automaker and to spur related business, is being folded into Chattanooga’s ongoing job-growth work.

As VW leaves its downtown offices and moves personnel to its plant, the four-member VW Team is shifting from Liberty Tower as well.

“We’re going to continue to support Volks-wagen as we do all our companies,” said J.Ed. Marston of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. “The workload with VW can be folded into the Chamber’s normal activities.”

Three of the four team members will move into the Chamber’s Broad Street offices, while one will shift into space at the plant, Marston said.

The VW Team was set up early last year in the wake of the German automaker’s announcement to build a $1 billion auto assembly plant at Enterprise South industrial park.

Tom Edd Wilson, the Chamber’s chief executive, said the business group raised $800,000 from private donors to operate the VW Team in partnership with the state.

The VW Team moved to Chestnut Street office space in what’s now Liberty Tower along with much of the automaker’s staff while the plant was under construction.

Chattanooga businessman Jim Berry, whose company recently bought Liberty Tower, said VW’s lease expires Jan. 31, 2011. The carmaker’s move will help his company undertake a $20 million revamp of the tower, he said.

Marston said that the VW Team’s Blake Poole, who works as a special assistant to state Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Matt Kisber, will shift to the plant.

“He’ll continue to be a liaison for Commissioner Kisber,” Marston said. “His job is trying to recruit companies for Tennessee and engaging the use of Tennessee and locally based vendors.”

Scott Cooper will continue as a Chamber business recruiter, while Chrissy Nolan moves to an administrative post in membership, he said.

Trevor Hamilton, the Chamber’s vice president for economic development, will continue in his role, Marston said.

He termed the VW Team “a tremendous success.” In addition to providing better communication with the automaker, Marston said, the group helped in the $687 million in contracts let to Tennessee and local vendors, for example.

“We played a large role to develop the idea of an on-site supplier park,” he added.

Marston said the team also helped VW plant work remain on time.

“We lose if they’re not on schedule,” he said.

VW plans to start production early next year on a new midsize sedan and employ more than 2,000 workers when fully ramped up.

about Mike Pare...

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 ...

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August 20, 2010 at 4:11 a.m.
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