UPDATE: Chattanooga, state leaders react to Volkswagen investigation
UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann released a statement Wednesday morning that said "I am very disappointed in the recent news but am confident that Volkswagen will work to rectify the situation and ensure this does not happen in the future."
PREVIOUS STORY: It’s no secret that thousands of people in Chattanooga depend on Volkswagen to make a living.
VW said its invested $1 billion in this Chattanooga facility and currently have more than 2,000 full-time employees.
Now many state and county leaders are using words like “concerned” and “troubling” when talking about VW’s future.
"Obviously we were extremely disappointed to hear about the Volkswagen incident,” said Hamilton Co. Mayor Jim Coppinger.
Mayor Coppinger said he was just as shocked as the rest of the nation when he learned VW intentionally rigged emissions testing results.
"Obviously there was no suspicion, no heads up or anything given about the potential of what has occurred at Volkswagen,” he said.
Now the future of the company is being questioned which means the future of Chattanooga’s economy could also be impacted.
"As a reminder we need to be aware of what Volkswagen means to our community,” he said. “The number of people not only that they employ, but the other Tier 1 suppliers, so there's literally thousands of people that could be impacted."
Governor Bill Haslam calls VW a major partner for the state of Tennessee in terms of growth and investment. He told reporters in Nashville Monday that he’s concerned.
Former Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield was in office when VW chose Chattanooga. He released the following statement: "I still believe in Volkswagen. I'm still on their side. This news is unfortunate, but I'm confident they will correct the problems, and make things right. I'm looking forward to a bright future of Volkswagen in Chattanooga."
U.S. Senator Bob Corker, who was a key player in bring VW to Chattanooga in 2008, said “We have communicated with Volkswagen representatives and are deeply disappointed by these reports. The company must rectify this serious situation and fully comply with all investigations.”
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said in a statement, "“I spoke with VW leadership earlier today to express my concerns about the current situation and what impacts, if any, it might have on the Chattanooga plant. VW officials assured me they are taking this matter seriously and explained how critical the B SUV is to their North American market strategy.”
While the future remains unclear, Mayor Coppinger is hopeful work will continue at Enterprise South and VW will remain a staple in Chattanooga’s economy.
"I'm optimistic that Volkswagen will do the right thing and they will clear this up as quickly as possible, obviously they have a lot of decisions to make in their upcoming board meetings,” Coppinger said.
Tennessee Senator Bo Watson called for a public hearing to learn more about the impact of this scandal. No word yet on if or when that hearing will take place.
The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce released the following statement late Tuesday: “We’re aware of what’s been reported but haven’t had any communication with the company regarding this issue. At the Chamber, we remain focused on regional economic growth through the support of all local businesses. We have seen 5,600 jobs added to the region over the past year and are working hard to continue that trend.”