325 new jobs as Yanfeng, automotive supplier, expands - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

325 new jobs as Yanfeng, automotive supplier, expands

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Another automotive expansion in Chattanooga brings the addition of 325 new jobs to town.

Yanfeng Automotive Interiors will invest $55 million to establish new automotive manufacturing operations in Chattanooga to support Volkswagen.

This marks the company’s fourth U.S. facility. Yanfeng Automotive Interiors will supply interior components including floor consoles, instrument panels and trunk trim for future Volkswagen models at the automaker's Chattanooga assembly plant.

Production is slated to begin in late 2016.

“We are pleased to establish a facility in Chattanooga to support Volkswagen,” David Wang, Yanfeng Automotive Interiors vice president and deputy general manager, North America, said. “We appreciate the partnership with our customer, as well as local and state officials, who are working closely with us to launch this new manufacturing location.”

Yanfeng Automotive Interiors is a supplier of instrument panels and cockpit systems, door panels, floor consoles and overhead consoles.

Headquartered in Shanghai, China, the company has more than 90 manufacturing and technical centers in 17 countries and employs over 28,000 people globally.

The company has facilities in Michigan to supply Chrysler and General Motors.

“Yanfeng Automotive Interiors is another success that validates our investment in Enterprise South,” Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said. “We’ve proven we’re an outstanding manufacturing location with a well-prepared workforce. We’re striving to enhance our career readiness still further by focusing on disciplines like science, technology, engineering and math in Hamilton County Schools.”

It's an exciting announcement for our area but as Channel 3 learned today it's also going to be a challenge to make sure those jobs go to people living in our area.

"We realize right off the bat there's going to be an increased need for folks and we know that's going to put a strain on the existing labor force," said Dean of Engineering Technology Division Tim McGhee.

Chattanooga State's Dean of Engineering says this announcement acts a challenge to get more students enrolled in their programs.

About 70 students a year train at the Volkswagen Academy partnered with Chattanooga State.

"We want the jobs here in Chattanooga, but we want the people in Chattanooga, people in Hamilton County to at least have the first opportunity for these careers," McGhee said.

The City of Chattanooga is working with the auto companies to better understand their workforce needs, it's called the Auto Workforce Group.

"Each of them, Gestamp, Volkswagen, Yanfeng, they have different requirements for their jobs but we want to give people the skill sets they need to get these good middle class jobs," said Mayor Andy Berke.

Based on the manufacturing jobs already in place, Chattanooga State knows some of these new positions will require a certificate of training and some positions will require up to three years of further education.

Finding students a job is not the hardest part - getting them to sign up is.

"That's one of things we have the most difficult time, is convincing parents, young people, that manufacturing is a great career," McGhee said.

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