Volkswagen officials expect to have close to 100 applications for every job at its Chattanooga automobile plant.

Blake Poole, a member of the Tennessee Department of Economic Development’s Team Volkswagen, said the company plans to begin hiring production workers in mid-October and expects to get 150,000 applications for the 1,600 production jobs at the plant. Volkswagen will have a total of 2,100 jobs at the new plant.

Poole, speaking earlier this week at the Development Authority of Gordon County, said construction of the plant. Located on 1,300 acres just off Interstate 75 in Chattanooga, is ahead of schedule. Production is slated to start in the first quarter of 2001, he said.

Volkswagen also plans to locate its Tier 1 suppliers next to its plant at the Enterprise South plant, but companies that supply those manufacturers will locate in a 75-mile radius of Chattanooga.

“Once we know who the Tier 1 suppliers are, we’ll start to see other suppliers chose locations,” he said. “The potential impact is 10,000 jobs down the entire supply chain.”

Asked if Calhoun and Gordon County have a chance of luring some of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers, Poole told authority members, “Being on I-75 is a big advantage for you. I-75 is the key.”

He said Volkswagen has enough land at Enterprise South to build a mirror of the 1.9 million-square-foot plant currently under construction.

“There is the potential that Audi may build there, but Volkswagen is not saying anything, right now,” he said. “I think the sky’s the limit as far as what we’ll see.”

The Chattanooga Volkswagen plant represents a $1 billion investment by the German carmaker, which plans to build a new mid-size sedan for the American market.

“Volkswagen currently has a 3- to 4-percent share of the U.S. auto market but expects that to increase once the Chattanooga plant starts building cars,” Poole said.

Calhoun Times