Another German company puts down roots in the Chattanooga area

by Mike Pare, Chattanooga Times Free Press

 
 
 
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, right, enjoys a moment with Rhea County Executive George Thacker following the March announcement of the Stulz HVAC manufacturing business that is coming to Dayton, Tennessee, and bringing 250 jobs. Photo by  Tim Barber  /Times Free Press.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, right, enjoys a moment with Rhea County Executive George Thacker following the March announcement of the Stulz HVAC manufacturing business that is coming to Dayton, Tennessee, and bringing 250 jobs. Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Another German company has put down roots in the Chattanooga area, bringing the number to about two dozen in just the past decade or so.

Voestalpine Eifeler Coatings, based in Dusseldorf, has leased former plant space in Cleveland, Tennessee, where it will provide coatings for steel used in appliances and the aerospace industry, said Doug Berry, the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce's vice president of economic development.

"The region has done well [in attracting German companies]," Berry said. "We've got a real good mix."

Berry said the company is investing about $3.8 million initially at the 35,000-square-foot site off Old Tasso Road. The company anticipates hiring about 25 employees at full capacity, he said. Wages are in the $16 per hour range, Berry said.

The project was spurred on by the Greater Chattanooga Economic Partnership, in which Chattanooga, Cleveland and Dalton, Georgia, and other regional economic development groups agreed to start jointly marketing the region.

"That constant messaging has led to project leads like this," said Berry, noting the partnership is an outgrowth of the Thrive 2055 regional planning effort.

Charles Wood, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of economic development, said Southeast Tennessee has become "the European corner of the state."

He said German companies are aware of big businesses such as Volkswagen coming to Chattanooga in 2008 and "that gives us the good housekeeping seal of approval."

Also, Wood said, with VW based in the northern part of Germany and polysicon-maker Wacker, with a plant in Bradley County, based in southern Germany, that helps spread to word to other companies.

Wood said the regional economic partnership has been "a strong relationship across state lines."