Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

Saturday, July 26, 2014

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry. 

That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s first automotive research and development center in Chattanooga was possible. I could not be more excited about Volkswagen’s deepened commitment to our state and for the thousands of Tennessee families who will benefit from the high-quality jobs that will be added at the plant and at automotive suppliers statewide.

I will never forget the moment in 2008 when I got the call from Volkswagen officials with news that the company would come to Chattanooga. That call was the culmination of a decades-long vision our community developed with the goal of attracting a major, international manufacturing company to the city.

A key reason that was possible was because of the foundation my colleague, Lamar Alexander, laid with the recruitment of Nissan in the 1980s, which started a process that has allowed Tennessee to become one of the most important automotive states.

On July 15, six years to the day since Volkswagen first announced it was coming to the Volunteer State, we celebrated the news that the company will significantly grow its presence in my hometown.

It has not been an easy road. Over the past several months, you have watched the debate regarding Volkswagen’s decision to expand play out in public. I know some viewed the path we took as controversial, but there was no other road that would have led us to this great outcome. I know it has been challenging at times, especially for the workers at Volkswagen and for the community, but in the end this effort that so many helped make happen has and will continue to pay off in huge ways for Tennesseans.

The number of jobs Volkswagen will add is far more than anyone anticipated. That is in large part because of the tenacity and hard work of our governor, Bill Haslam, and his economic development team. Originally, we were focused on obtaining the second automobile line – the midsize SUV – for production at the Chattanooga plant and a promise that 1,350 new jobs would be created.

Through Governor Haslam’s leadership, we were able to move the dial and greatly expand Volkswagen’s commitment by also securing the research and development center, bringing the total number of new jobs from 1,350 to 2,000 and an investment of $600 million in Tennessee.

This investment hopefully will have a ripple effect that will make an even larger economic splash in the state. A 2013 University of Tennessee study indicated that because jobs in the auto industry have such a significant multiplier effect, the original Volkswagen plant – which was employing 2,400 people at that time – drove the creation of more than 12,400 jobs to the state, including17 supplier companies that came to the area and other Tennessee-based businesses that added new jobs because of the economic growth.

We expect this investment to create thousands of indirect jobs, helping solidify Tennessee as the place for automobile manufacturing in our country.

There are few things I cherish more than coming home every weekend to the community and state I love. There is no place quite like Tennessee, which is why we are catching the attention of so many around the world. I believe even more great things are yet to come as we continue working together to bring high-quality jobs to the state by making the most of the unique assets for which Tennessee is known.

Bob Corker


Roy Exum: Not Many Know This

The best story of the summer – by far – came out of Panama City over the Fourth of July weekend when over 80 total strangers on a Panama City beach responded to screams. Two boys, ages 14 and 11, were caught in a rip tide and all of these “angels” quickly formed a human chain -- over 80 people with their arms locked -- to stretch out in the water, reach those kids and tug them out ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Dear Friend Jake

Two weeks ago four of us piled in a car to go down to Canton, Ga., so we could tell Jake Butcher goodbye. Bob McKamey, former mayor Ron Littlefield, a dazzling guy named Steve Wilson, and myself. This would be the last time any of us would see Jake. It was a spectacular day and anyone who doesn’t believe in such goodbyes is missing out on the greatest moment in their life. It is ... (click for more)

Cleveland City Council Votes 4-2 To Pass A 46-Cent Property Tax Increase

The Cleveland City Council, with scant public notice, voted 4-2 on first reading on Monday afternoon to approve one of the largest property tax increases in the city's history. Richard Banks, Bill Estes, Tom Cassada and Vice Mayor Avery Johnson voted for a 46-cent property tax boost. Opposed were Charlie McKenzie and David May. Dale Hughes and Mayor Tom Rowland were absent ... (click for more)

Police Find Large Cache Of Meth, $23,134 Cash On Hensley At Motel Near Hamilton Place; Police Say He Was Supplier To Rossville Man Who Died In June 29 Overdose

Chattanooga Police said they found Michael Wade Hensley with a large cache of meth, a loaded handgun and $23,134 cash after being summoned to a motel near Hamilton Place Mall last Wednesday. Police said they believe that Hensley, 41, was the supplier for a 36-year-old Rossville man who died of an overdose on June 29. Hensley is now facing federal charges of possession of meth ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Team Wins 17U Division I AAU National Championship

Team NLP(TN) from Chattanooga won the 17U Division I AAU National Championship on Sunday with a 61-56 victory over the Miami Runnin' Rebels. The game was televised on ESPN. Team NLP(TN) program is coached by Brainerd High School Assistant Coach, Steve Cook Jr (Chattanooga Christian High School graduate), while E'Jay Ward (Brainerd High School graduate) serves as his assistant ... (click for more)

Lookouts Rally Falls Short In Sunday's 6-4 Loss At Mobile

MOBILE, Ala.  -- Sherman Johnson hit a two-run double in the second inning, and Alberto Triunfel singled three times as the Mobile BayBears topped the Chattanooga Lookouts 6-4 on Sunday.  Trailing 6-1, the Lookouts rallied for three runs in the eighth inning but that would be all for the night. Lookouts starting pitcher Felix Jorge (8-2) was shelled for the second ... (click for more)