By Greg Glover
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - The Chattanooga waterfront added another internationally recognized landmark Thursday.
Alstom may not be as familiar as Volkswagen, but the crowd dignitaries that amassed at the new building suggest this power turbine manufacturer is just as important to the Tennessee Valley's economic future.
"Oh, this is an outstanding accomplishment not just for Tennessee, but for the entire country," says Nick Akins, American Electric Power.
Akins is a bit of an expert, he's one of many clients on hand for Alstom's grand opening party.
The new plant is a sight to behold , housing the world's largest equipment to mill and drill massive turbines to be used for nuclear, natural gas and more efficient coal fired power.
Governor Phil Bredesen says, considering the Gulf oil spill, Chattanooga is at the leading edge of the green energy movement.
"What's going on right now, I think, may well be a pivot point in which this country begins to get serious about long-range energy strategies for the nation," says Gov. Bredesen.
"In an old industrial city, the old combustion complex, who would ever think that it could become the bright, the clean, the green type of facility that it is today," says Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield.
Much like the arrival of VW, 4 to 5 jobs are expected to spin off from each of the 350 highly skilled positions filled.
"It's safe to say that this is going to have a significant impact in job creation and personal income growth in southeast Tennessee," says Matt Kisber, TN Department of Economic and Community Development.
These aren't the industrial jobs of yesteryear. County Mayor Ramsey says the key to the continued growth of Chattanooga's industry and economy is a workforce that's ready. This next "big get" sharpens the call to improve education.
"If we can get our parents and our grandparents and families involved in the child's education where they pay attention to whether the child's learning or not, that makes the child pay attention, the teacher pay attention, the superintendent does, the principal does, the county mayor does; a whole lot of people pay more attention," says Mayor Ramsey.
It's a $300 million investment this global company has made in Chattanooga, a move that shows their confidence in their product and a turnaround in the American economy.
Their new facility has more than 350,000 square feet under roof and they are hoping to fill 350 spots when running at capacity.