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Volkswagen officials meet with potential suppliers at BMS

Kevin Castle • Apr 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Volkswagen of America had company officials at Bristol Motor Speedway Tuesday to meet with Northeast Tennessee business owners to explore possible support and supply options for their Chattanooga plant.

The Northeast Tennessee Valley Regional Industrial Development Association (NETVRIDA) hosted the session, which was held at the Bruton Smith Building.

These sessions are similar to other meetings Volkswagen is holding across Tennessee, said VW Corporate Communications Director Jill Bratina.

“We see ourselves as residents of the entire state of Tennessee, so we want other companies to be a part of what we are doing. Local sourcing is absolutely critical,” said Bratina. “You think about the growing supplier base for the automotive industry here in the Southeast. There’s tremendous opportunity for any of the vehicle components (we could use) to come from Tennessee.

“One of our goals is to have 90 percent of the vehicle we produce at our new facility to have U.S. content. The vehicle is just one part of our construction process. We will need other support industry, and that provides jobs and opportunity.”

A company based in Manchester was awarded a $147 million contract earlier this month by VW to manufacture interior door panels for a midsize sedan the company plans to build exclusively at the Tennessee plant.

NETVRIDA Executive Director Alicia Summers said the forum Tuesday was a great way for business owners and leaders to find out how they can possibly become a part of a Volkswagen success story although the plant is a few hours away.

“The goal of this event is to provide our regional business and industry the chance to do business with Volkswagen. They have the tools now to submit their information and perhaps become a part of things to come,” Summers said. “Volkswagen’s positive attitude toward the residents, the work force and the state of Tennessee provided a great opportunity for us. So we graciously invited them to see what we have to offer.”

VW Chattanooga supplier diversity official Keith Eakins said the company is looking to offer contracts for industry that would offer opportunities for minority- or women-owned companies.

Interested owners and company leaders can visit the VW web site at www.vwgroupsupply.com (select English) to examine what services and supplies the company needs and submit specific information that will be reviewed for potential inclusion in plant production and construction.

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