CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - A key to Chattanooga's jobs growth is about halfway through the hiring process. Alstom will dedicate its new turbine plant on June 24. On Wednesday, Channel 3 Eyewitness News received a tour of that massive, and secretive, blue building that is now part of the city's skyline.
City, state, and global leaders from Alstom will be in town later this month for the grand opening. Getting to this day was not easy. First the company had to remove what combustion engineering of the past left behind. The work in Chattanooga is massive and some of the most sophisticated in the world.
Alstom Chief Executive Officer Stephane Cai said, "It's harder to explain turbine manufacturing than car manufacturing."
While Volkswagen gets a lot of the attention in Chattanooga, another manufacturing company is completing the largest turbine factory in the world.
Alstom is not new to Chattanooga but the turbine expansion is. Located downtown on the riverfront, the new plant will manufacture turbines that are essential to producing nuclear energy worldwide.
"You need a turbine to drive the generator to produce electricity," said Cai.
The Chattanooga plant is of 30 Alstom plants in the world. The corporation employs more than 80,000 people in 70 countries. The Chattanooga expansion will staff up to 400 highly skilled and highly paid people by 2012. They'll play a big role in supplying 25 percent of the world's electricity.
Alstom is banking on a clean energy future, and Chattanooga is hoping to cash in.
Cai said, "I believe that Chattanooga's name will be associated with clean power for the future."
The plant plans to ship its first completed turbine in January. When they are fully functional, this plant will sell as many as 30 turbines a year at more than $10 million each.
Their crane is capable of lifting 800 tons will load the turbine onto a barge. And since the new downtown Riverwalk will snake right past its campus, the public will be able to see this work for themselves.
"This river dock is a part of the city's landscape. We would like the joggers, the cyclist, to see our barge loading operation, why not," said Cai.