published Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

Chattanooga officials defend VW's Tennessee-first production hiring

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    Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press The two buildings in Volkswagen's supplier park in the foreground are part of more than 1,100 acres VW is using for its automobile assembly plant at the Enterprise South industrial park. Most of the available industrial sites in the former Volunteer Army Ammunitions Plant have been bought or optioned.

Chattanooga officials are defending Volkswagen's decision to hire nearly all of its production work force so far from Hamilton County.

While several of the German automaker's employees at its Chattanooga plant live in North Georgia, none are production workers at present, according to VW.

"We've encouraged them to prioritize the hiring of Hamilton County citizens first and Tennessee citizens secondly," said J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of marketing.

Marston said the move is a recognition that the vast majority of the $577 million in financial incentives awarded to VW to locate in the city came from the state of Tennessee along with Chattanooga and Hamilton County.

VW has hired more than 1,300 people so far. About 1,200 of the planned 2,000 plant employees will work in production.

Scott Wilson, a spokesman for the German automaker, said several of its overall work force live in North Georgia, though he declined to give specific numbers.

He said VW plans to continue to focus hiring on Hamilton County though it's not restricted to it.

State Rep. Gerald McCormick, the Republican House majority leader from Chattanooga, said taxpayers put in hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives to attract VW.

"It's appropriate they look at Hamilton County first," said McCormick.

However, some in North Georgia are disappointed VW hasn't hired more people from that state so far.

Georgia state Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, said VW had the "clear option to hire who they choose," but he's disappointed the automaker hasn't tapped North Georgia's manufacturing work force.

"That's not been the historical neighborly relationship in the tri-state area, and I'm sorry they've decided to take that posture," Bethel said.

Lynn Laughter, chairman of the Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce, said she hopes North Georgians will be hired more in the future.

"What we're really hoping to get is some of the suppliers in this area," she added.

No VW suppliers have started new facilities in Georgia, though some companies in the state do provide parts to the car company.

Martha Eaker, president of the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce, said she expects Georgians to eventually get VW jobs.

"We have a work force ready, willing and able to go to work."

Marston said Tennessee officials appreciate Georgia officials supporting the Volunteer State's bid to attract VW nearly three years ago. He expects VW employment of North Georgians will pick up and the state will see suppliers.

Staff writer Andy Johns contributed to this report. Contact staff writer Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.

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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Allison12 said...

I would never deem any data or information from the City of Chattanooga as credible. In fact, I would write them off all together. The notion that most of the workers are from Hamilton County is pure fabrication, and relies on the public having short term memory. Nay Nay, I think not. If I accept Mr. Pare's previous report as correct, in August 2010 the TFP reported that VW hired 1016 workers and 324 are from Hamilton County. So now it is reported that "most" of the 1300 hired to date are from Hamilton County. Now, someone get their story straight, because the math don't jive my friend.

January 22, 2011 at 12:56 a.m.
Allison12 said...

Here ya go, link to the August 2010 report. Someone speaks with forked tongue.

January 22, 2011 at 12:59 a.m.
NorthChatter said...

Both articles seem consistent to me.

First line from this article...

Chattanooga officials are defending Volkswagen's decision to hire nearly all of its production work force so far from Hamilton County.

Key words...production work force.

Now go back to the article you referenced...

VW said 99 percent of production workers are Hamilton County residents.

Again, key words...production workers.

Sound like to me that of the 1,300 they have hired so far, about 800 have been non-production jobs and 500 are production jobs...with 700 more to hire (which would mainly be production jobs, that would get you to 1,200 total for production).

And that makes sense...the last jobs to hire would mainly be in production, because you don't need most of them until they actually start making cars full time.

I get from your reading your posts, that you do not like the Littlefield Administration, that's cool, I'm no fan either. But, in this case, I don't see anyone "speaking with a forked tongue." Maybe the article could have spelled it out a little better, or maybe it should have been read a little more closely.

January 22, 2011 at 3:26 a.m.
JR said...

I see lots wrong with this exclusive policy of only hiring Tennessseans. First, it is illegal. The Commerce clause of the Constition gives the Federal Government exclsuive authority to regulate interstate commerce. This restriction of the flow of labor between states is illegal and I expect some aggressive law firm to start class action lawsuit anytime now. Tennessee, Chattanooga and VW cannot conspire to violate the Constitution.

In addition, Federal dollars are involved in the project . The land was federal land (former TNT plant) which was cleaned up with federal dollars and given to Chattanooga. Federal dollars built the enterchange off 1_75. And, I am certain millions more in federal dollars have been spent on the project. But, if this is the way Chattanooga and VW wants rto play ball I am encouraging Georgians and Alabamians to boycott Chattanooga Businesses and VW. Shop at home folks and keep your dollars in your local community. Do not send your tax dollars to Tennesee, Chattanooga and Hamiltin county anymore, If you shop at home local busineses will hire local folks and Chattanooga Businessses will lose business and employees. Anything you can buy in Chattanooga you can buy in North Georgia.

January 22, 2011 at 8:06 a.m.
esaletnik said...

What about the Irish. Any word on whether the Irish can apply?

January 22, 2011 at 9:20 a.m.
TNAndy said...

JR, I don't know what law school you attended, but there is nothing illegal about this. VW is a publicly traded company, not a government entity, so the Commerce clause does not even come into play. When BMW relocated to Spartanburg, SC, BMW gave preference to SC workers. It was all stipulated as part of the agreement when states give financial incentives. Not a single federal lawsuit has EVER been filed against an auto company for these hiring preferences.

Tell me something, when Home Depot built their new corporate HQ in Vinings, they got hundreds of millions in tax breaks, too. Home Depot restricted their hiring to individuals who lived in the ATL area and those who transferred from the old HQ. Where was the outrage from GA residents then? What about UPS relocating to Alpharetta? Again, massive tax breaks. Again, no one from SE TN was hired. Where was the outrage?

North GA residents really need to get a clue before commenting on matters where they have no standing. North GA residents don't pay TN taxes (except for sales when you VOLUNTARILY come into Chattanooga to shop).

Meanwhile just look at the front page of today's paper. North GA folks are all up in arms about VW, and yet in your own backyard, Dalton is withering on the vine because of an unprepared workforce.

January 22, 2011 at 9:22 a.m.
HannaBeckman said...

The honest truth is that most of those who applied last year online from this area(Chattanooga/Cleveland,etc) were vastly unqualified,period! I watched all the newscasts at that time of people applying with none of the qualifications VW had stipulated. Homeless/no computer/transportation/Diploma/Tech skills/ Anyhow, VW pay scale is way out of wack with similiar positions. I make more than the production workers will, and I have 100% benefits, and I am a COOK!!!!! Go figure!!!

January 22, 2011 at 9:48 a.m.
Humphrey said...

Sorry, but I am amazed by this.

Republican lawmakers from Georgia - you know, the pro-business, hire-who-you-want and right-to-work and small-government-no-regulation-don't-raise-my-taxes-for-anything Republican lawmakers from Georgia are complaining that a company that Tennessee tax payers paid millions of dollars to subsidize hasn't hired enough Georgia residents.


Did these guys get tired of scheming about how to take our water? Now they want Tennessee tax payers to subsidize jobs for Georgia residents?


January 22, 2011 at 10:10 a.m.
JR said...

Well, VW woulkd not be in Chattanooga without my money! Federal subsidies in the form of donating all those hundreds of acres of land and millions in Federal subsidies plus the exchange off I-75. Let's be perfectly clear. Tennessee and Chattanooga did not accomplish this alone. As far me. I don't wnat or need a VW job.Besides, didn't not have to go to law school Might do you good to read that Constitution.

January 22, 2011 at 10:22 a.m.
Allison12 said...

NorthChatter, You are wrong, and the Ed's at the Chamber should explain this notion of majority from Ham. Co. The August 2010 article specifically states that of the 1016 hired for production 324 were from Ham. Co. Then, in this article they state of the 1,300 hired the majority are from Ham. Co. If 324 of 1016 hired were local, then 1,300 hired could not have a majority from Ham Co. No, the numbers are not consistent.

January 22, 2011 at 11:28 a.m.
GBO81 said...


Allison, the August article states "VW now employs 1,016 people, 324 of them production workers from Hamilton County." That says there were 324 production workers at that time -- not 1016. The other employees are in professional/support positions. Those jobs have to be competitive outside the city because we just haven't built and run a car plant before. Those actually producing the cars ARE from Hamilton County. A couple of my friends work there and I know from talking to them that the production workers are local.

January 22, 2011 at 12:39 p.m.
fairmon said...

Unless you are familiar with the excellent process VW used to evaluate applicants you shouldn't criticize. It is in Hamilton counties and everyone's best interest that they select and hire the most qualified regardless of where they are from. The days of "here I am, hire and train me and adopt me for life" are over. Employers have a right and should require aspiring employees to have something to offer in return for employment. I hope they manage well and can sell the cars they make at a very competitive price. It would be best if politicians and whiners just shut up and let those that know best how to run an automobile company do so. As suppliers build and hire and some of those hired move to Hamilton County the incentives provided will have more pay back than anyone has yet to acknowledge. It would be in the city and counties best interest if no business was taxed. The growth and added jobs would be staggering. This hiring process puts our educational system in the spot light, I know from experience most educators don't have a clue what businesses need or how to prepare students for the world of work. Responsibility and reliability is a foreign language to many of their students.

January 22, 2011 at 2:29 p.m.
whatsthefuss said...

What harp said. Toyota walked away from the same sight and politely said the area workforce did not have the skill set needed to produce a Toyota product. Can you imagine that???? You might could want to make fur sur u you git an education. Do what???

January 22, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.
fairmon said...

There were other major corporations that sent search firms that dropped the area from their list for the same reason. I was interviewed by several of them. They were interested in the school systems and the skills available in the labor suppy area. Most included inquiries about local politics. These search firms interviewed several school system and political people also. They interviewed other businesses in the area. Claud Ramsey deserves a lot of credit for VW being here. His open and honest no BS approach helped a lot.

January 22, 2011 at 6:09 p.m.
rockman12 said...

If Georgia wanted the jobs then they should have spent the millions of dollars that Tennessee taxpayers spent. If you live in Georgia go to Atlanta to find a job and quit whinning.

January 22, 2011 at 8:07 p.m.
NorthChatter said...


Allison, you need to work your you math and reading comprehension skills.

January 22, 2011 at 8:26 p.m.
signal said...

Payingattention, you must be related to Allison12..... Per the article from August referenced by Allison:

VW now employs 1,016 people, 324 of them production workers from Hamilton County.

VW said 99 percent of production workers are Hamilton County residents.

It's quite clear. As of August, VW had 1,016 employees, including 324 production workers. Of that 324 production workers, 99% were from Hamilton County. The other 700 or so employees were NOT production workers, but professionals such as managers, engineers, etc that HAD to be brought in from elsewhere because guess what, people in Chattanooga have no experience at all in building cars.

Based on the reading comprehension skills of both you and Allison12, it's a miracle that VW didn't think you were representative of the education level of our residents and actually decided to locate here anyway.

January 23, 2011 at 9:28 a.m.
ladysoldier196 said...

Lets look at this with open minds folks. VW hired people. those are jobs. Those are people putting money back into our economy. They said they would try and hire from the local population for the production jobs, and they are trying. But not everyone is qualified or trainable - right? I mean VW didn't promise to hire every applicant. They are looking for the best we have, and the best we have may not always have applied. Now about the semantics around 'local' - well DUH, if they WERE from out of town and moved here to work here, then they either purchased or rented homes to LIVE here. So they have committed themselves and their families to live here and pay into our system. Don't fault them for wanting a better life for their family - they did, after all move here, and are spending money here. Hell, Chattanooga didn't benefit nearly as much as Ooltewah now did it. Most people seem to be buying homes in Ooltewah. How do the inner city Chattanoogans get work there when they don't have cars to drive there, and the city chose NOT to provide bus service to there? Wether we like it or not, not all of us can be hired there, and VW has sunk their own money into the project and deserves to hire who they want. I just hope they don't hire too many from Michigan, who are rabble rousing UAW trouble makers... Now as far as Georgia whining that VW hasn't hired enough North Georgians, nor have Tier One suppliers located facilities in North Georgia -- uh? how is that VW's fault? why should VW have to defend itself when Georgia apparently didn't even try and attract VW? Why is Georgia whining now instead of providing incentives for the suppliers to locate there? Dalton has plenty of unoccupied facilities and workers -- yet I hear nothing of Georgia trying to attract work by incentives?

VW (and all of the other companies that have chosen to locate here) is GOOD for the community in the long run. That land sat vacant for years and years. So what, there were incentives. Money will come back to us. We will get a road to highway 58, we have a new cut-through from exit 9 to Bonny Oaks and Hickory Valley, we will have a new exit for Little Debbies. We have how many new businesses opening in the long vacant 'enterprise' south? Quit whining and look at the future - our city and county is and will be viable and attractive to future business, and will keep jobs here so our kids have futures.

January 23, 2011 at 11:58 a.m.
LarryPage said...

This is definitely a right move for Volkswagen because these are the people that will make the parts for their car. These are the people that will make the EMPI REAR TAILLIGHT SEALS FOR VW. I hope all goes well.

December 15, 2011 at 2:15 a.m.
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