U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today praised Volkswagen's decision to build its midsize SUV at the Chattanooga, Tenn., facility. Speaking at the North American Celebration of Volkswagen's expansion in Chattanooga along with Gov. Bill Haslam, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Volkswagen Group of America executives, and other civic and government officials, Alexander made the following statement:
"Thirty years ago Tennessee had almost no auto jobs, and Chattanooga was just beginning to evaluate its strengths so it could reach its potential. Today's Volkswagen announcement confirms Tennessee's status as the most attractive state for new auto jobs. One-third of our manufacturing jobs today are auto-related jobs, and these jobs have spread into 85 of our 95 counties.
"Volkswagen's decision to locate 200 research and development jobs in Chattanooga has special significance. Now that Tennessee is established as the most attractive destination for new auto assembly plants and suppliers, the next step is to attract automotive research and development which today is mostly in the Midwest.
"I congratulate first the city of Chattanooga. No American city has better realized its potential and become more attractive for good jobs than Chattanooga has. Next, I congratulate the workers at Volkswagen who have demonstrated that they can build quality vehicles that will expand Volkswagen's presence in North America.
"I congratulate Governor Haslam and his team, for their formidable skill in recruiting companies and creating an environment in which those companies and their employees can prosper. And, finally, Senator Corker, whose energy and tenacity first as mayor and now as United States Senator have been crucial to Volkswagen's decisions to come to Chattanooga, and now to expand."
Then-Governor Alexander recruited Nissan which brought its first plant in the U.S. to Tennessee in 1980. In 1985, Saturn also chose Tennessee for the location of its auto plant, creating 12,000 jobs combined with Nissan. Today, one-third of the manufacturing jobs in Tennessee are in the automotive industry.