Volkswagen’s choice eases Chattanooga’s past auto snubs

Volkswagen’s choice eases Chattanooga’s past auto snubs

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2008 7:01 pm
By: AP

CHATTANOOGA (AP) — When Volkswagen said yes, a city that shed its reputation for dirty air to become a top outdoors destination forgot years of frustrating rejections by automakers. Volkswagen’s plans to build a $1 billion assembly plant and create 2,000 jobs in Chattanooga had radio listeners rejoicing on call-in shows, businesses hanging welcome signs and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker declaring the city “will never be the same again.” University of Tennessee economist Bill Fox said spinoff jobs in Tennessee and neighboring corners of Georgia and Alabama would probably total more than 10,000. That economic impact doesn’t include the publicity from a global company planning a new sedan and seeking to boost its share of the U.S. market. “The cachet of having the firm come there is something that will be talked about through much of the world,” Fox said. “It gets the name of Chattanooga and the state of Tennessee in the media across the globe.” It’s a welcome blast of attention for a city that once had the dirtiest air in the country. In 1969, the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare ranked it No. 1 in particulate air pollution, thanks to smoke-belching foundries trapped by surrounding mountains. Chattanooga and surrounding Hamilton County responded by creating an air pollution control bureau and in 1989 the Environmental Protection Agency took Chattanooga off its dirty air list. In 2005, Chattanooga dedicated its redeveloped riverfront and Outside Magazine rated the Scenic City as one of America’s Top 10 Dream Towns with hiking, camping, hang gliding, rock climbing and nearby whitewater rafting where 1996 Olympic competitions were held.Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, who has worked for more than a decade to attract an automaker to Chattanooga, said the announcement answered “all those naysayers who said it would never happen.” “I can remember when the pollution was bad,” Ramsey said. “The times have changed and manufacturing has changed and all that is for the better … This is a community that can do about whatever it wants to once it makes up its mind.” Published in The Messenger 7.17.08

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