Volkswagen plant to bring thousands of jobs to Tennessee

A Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has plans to more than double its workforce in the next few years. According to The Tennessean, the facility could increase its number of direct employees by 2,000 and hire thousands more contractors and other associated workers.

Jobs for thousands
Currently, the plant employs 1,500 people directly. Including contractors, it is responsible for about 2,700 jobs. The company is expected to bring an additional 200 jobs for engineers to the plant to work at a design center. According to Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen, the purpose of the design center will be to adapt the company's offerings to North American consumers.

Volkswagen expanding in U.S.
Only one vehicle is being produced by the Chattanooga facility at the moment, but new workers are being brought on in anticipation of a second vehicle, which is expected to begin production by the end of 2016. Volkswagen representatives have said that the new facility should help the company increase its presence in the U.S., adding to both its customer base and its workforce.

"The United States of America remains an important market for Volkswagen," Winterkorn told the news source. "We are now taking the next step. Volkswagen is expanding its commitment to the United States. A key role here will be played by Volkswagen's midsize SUV. It will be built by real Americans starting at the end of 2016."

Volkswagen has set a goal of selling 800,000 cars per year in the U.S. by 2018. The effort to make those sales will include a more than $7 billion investment in Mexico and the U.S. It has already committed to investments worth $600 million in the Chattanooga plant. Facilities in Mexico were also being considered to produce the company's new vehicle before the site in Chattanooga was chosen.

Tennessee auto industry
According to data from the National Association of Manufacturers, 297,700 people were employed in the manufacturing sector in Tennessee as of 2010, a figure representing more than 10 percent of the state's total employment. The industry generated $36.3 billion for the state in 2009, which was nearly 15 percent of its gross state product.

The Tennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association reported that more than 100,000 of those workers are in automobile manufacturing positions. Those employees support General Motors and Nissan North America, in addition to Volkswagen and more than 1,000 suppliers.