Tuesday, July 15 2014, 10:03 PM EDT
Volkswagen, Area Leaders Celebrate Deal
This story will capture newsworthy quotes from Tuesday's news conference at the Hunter Museum in downtown Chattanooga regarding Volkswagen's announcement it will double its investment in its Chattanooga plant, and create the CrossBlue SUV, adding 2000 jobs.
We will update this story as new details come in.
City, county & VW officials arrived at the Hunter Museum at 4:10 p.m.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was first to take the podium. "We aren't just announcing 2000 new jobs. These jobs come with certain other jobs that follow them. The sheer number of families impacted will be huge."
"This hasn't happened anywhere else in South - establishing a research & development presence. That says something about the quality of our workforce from top to bottom," Haslam continued.
Haslam thanked several local lawmakers and Tennessee's Congressional delegation.
"There are cities & communities all over the country that would love to be sitting where Chattanooga is today. That didn't happen by accident. It happened because of a workforce that's world class and a community that cares."
Haslam noted that Senator Bob Corker has received a lot of criticism lately (on VW & unions), but he said the Volkswagen deal "wouldn't have happened without him."
Senator Bob Corker then took the podium. Cracking into tears, he thanked everyone at Volkswagen for making "a tremendous investment."
Corker said that the region has been through a "remarkable transformation." He remarked that the challenge was "bringing back" the manufacturing jobs that were lost decades ago. He said "the one piece that was elusive to us was finding a world-class manufacturer willing to work in our community."
He said "Thank you for completing that vision, because now we have no more land."
In referring to Governor Haslam, he said "all of us should be thankful that you are leading us the way you are."
Corker admitted that "there's been a lot played out more publicly" than expected. He said that the deal was completed at the Governor's mansion on June 13th.
Corker thanked both Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke & Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger for "handling this in the Chattanooga way."
Corker recounted the process that brought Volkswagen to Chattanooga in the first place, back in 2008. He says a VW executive viewed Chattanooga from the same podium from the Hunter Museum and said "Bob, I had no idea Chattanooga was like this." Corker says that view helped seal the deal.
Corker concluded, "It's the Chattanooga difference, and I want to thank the entire community for making an environment that drew Volkswagen here."
Corker introduced his senior Senator from Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, whose efforts, Corker said, "brought us to where we are today."
Senator Alexander says he wanted Volkswagen to know he's willing to help do "all that is legally possible" to help the automaker.
Alexander paid tribute to the workers at Volkswagen, for setting an example for manufacturers around the world.
He then said, "No one could have represented Chattanooga better than Governor Bill Haslam and Senator Bob Corker."
Senator Alexander said, "look at today. With this Volkswagen decision Tennessee has confirmed its status for new auto jobs, new assembly plants, & new suppliers."
"We should keep our eye on research and development jobs. That's a very important step for Chattanooga, and we have Volkswagen and its workers to thank for it."
Thomas Ulbrecht of Volkswagen's logistics department took the podium next. Ulbrecht thanked the city of Chattanooga and thanked city and county leaders for their continued support.
"The United States is and will remain one of the most important markets for the Volkswagen brands. Since 2009, Volkswagen has practically doubled its sales. But this alone, will not be enough. Therefore, we are speeding up the pace for our Strategy 2018. We are expanding its involvement in the U.S."
"Above all, we want to answer more effectively and even faster to the wishes of U.S. customers. We are establishing a new development and design center, where we will focus specifically on meeting the requirements of American models. It will also ensure we will keep a close eye on the wishes of the U.S. market in the future."
"Better watch out for more good news," Ulbrecht added in conclusion.
President & CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga Christian Kohl then took the stage, beginning with three words: "Oh, happy day."
"I believe the implementation of this second line of vehicles will greatly expand and be felt in impact on the Chattanooga community. I am pleased we are bringing so many jobs to the community. Because these jobs will work in a way that adds value to the marketplace."
Kohl said "We are also implementing changes in design for the 2016 Passat. This expansion represents a deepening of our partnerships with the state of Tennessee and Hamilton County."
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger then took the podium.