It sounds like an industry recruiter’s Super Bowl of deal closings: Put on your game face, arm yourself with a laptop, and go to a faraway location with a goal of bringing thousands of jobs back home.
In Tennessee’s case, Gov. Phil Bredesen said about 6,000 to 8,000 new jobs will be on the line when a state delegation travels to Germany next month to court auto parts suppliers serving Volkswagen’s planned $1 billion auto assembly facility in Chattanooga.
“We got a big win when Volkswagen decided to locate in Tennessee,” Bredesen said during a recent stop in Gray. “The trick now is not to relax. We don’t put our feet up on the desk and light up a cigar and tell ourselves how great we are, but to use this to pivot off it to bring a lot more jobs here. There’s a couple thousand jobs in the Volkswagen assembly plant by itself. There’s another potential 6,000 to 8,000 jobs in suppliers in the area. I think it’s real important for us to get out there and put the same energy into recruiting those suppliers and recruiting them to Tennessee, not into Georgia or Alabama, to produce those additional jobs.”
Tennessee is already a major economic player in auto-related operations, with more than 120,000 people on a payroll topping $6 billion, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TDECD).
In Chattanooga, Volkswagen will be building a new sedan targeted at the U.S. market, with initial production expected to be 150,000 vehicles when the plant starts up in 2011.
The Tennessee trade mission will begin in Wolfsburg, Germany, where Bredesen and members of the delegation will tour Volkswagen’s facilities and meet with company executives. Afterward, the delegation will travel to Dusseldorf, Munich and Frankfurt to hold briefings about the project with suppliers.
The idea, said Bredesen, is to sell the suppliers on Tennessee much in the same way Volkswagen was landed.
“We want them to understand all the things that Volkswagen did in deciding to locate in Tennessee,” TDECD Commissioner Matt Kisber explained. “We want them to understand we have sites and we have a quality work force and a great business climate.”
Kisber noted TDECD is building an inventory of potential supplier locations in the state.
“We will show radial rings of sites ... and show them what’s within 10 miles, 30 miles, 60 miles of the Volkswagen location in Chattanooga,” Kisber said. “I think the timing is perfect.”
Representatives from Tennessee communities located within a defined radius of the Chattanooga location are expected to be invited to go on the trip.
TDECD said the initial meetings with suppliers will focus on Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies based in Europe. Regional industrial development associations from across Tennessee will also be invited to participate in the trade mission to represent communities that cannot send a delegate.
The trade mission will run Oct. 22-28.
For more about TDECD go to www.tnecd.gov.