No future for auto plant in East Tennessee

5:33 PM, Oct 11, 2011   |    comments
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At least three different car makers are considering Tennessee for the home of their next plant, but it doesn't look like any of them will be in this area.

At least three different car makers are considering Tennessee for the home of their next plant, but it doesn't look like any of them will be in this area.

Several auto plants already call Tennessee home

"I see that many car manufactures are moving to Tennessee and putting their manufacturing centers in this state," said Jeremy Buckles who lives in the area.

Nissan is already in Nashville and Volkswagen is in Chattanooga which leads people to believe that Knox County might be next, but that's not going to happen.

"The likelihood of an automotive assembly plant landing in Knoxville is going to be slim to none. We just simply do not have a large enough industrial site in Knoxville," said the Knoxville Chamber Vice President of Economic Development, Doug Lawyer. He said even creating such a site would be hard.

TVA started a Megasite Program in 2004. It provides infrastructure designed to attract major companies like car makers, but in order for a piece of property to qualify, the land has to be at least 800 acres.

"Right now, we're a little land shy in Knox County," said Lawyer.

Knoxville has not proposed a Megasite.

"It's a struggle to find large tracks of land," said Lawyer.

The Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga started off as a TVA Megasite.

"Chattanooga about 18, 19 years ago started the process of assembling that land that then became a Megasite. Finding and developing industrial land, it's a long term situation," said Lawyer.

There is only one site left in the state. It's near Memphis, so lawyer said instead of housing a plant, Knoxville is focusing on supplying them.

"If there's an assembly plant located nearby like Volkswagen in Chattanooga, our niche is those suppliers that feed that factory," said Lawyer.

Audi, Volvo, and Hyundai are all considering U.S. plants, and the West Tennessee Megasite is trying to get their attention.

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