CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - In a news release emailed to Channel 3 Eyewitness News on Tuesday morning, Volkswagen announced it has hired the first group of production workers for its new manufacturing plant. According a Volkswagen spokesman, 100% of the employees are residents of Hamilton County.

The group, consisting of 22 production team members, will spend three weeks in Volkswagen orientation classes which serve as an introduction to Volkswagen products, culture and efficient manufacturing practices. Some of the production team members will travel to other Volkswagen manufacturing facilities around the world for first-hand experience.

When fully trained, these team members will work in the paint shop, the body shop and the assembly shop once the plant is operational.

"The hiring of our first production team members is another important milestone in this project," said Hans-Herbert Jagla, Executive Vice President of Human Resources for Volkswagen in Chattanooga. "As we have said from the beginning, we prioritize hiring as close to the plant as possible—it just makes good sense," Jagla said.

The second group of production team members to be hired will begin the process next week and will also be made up 100 percent of residents from Chattanooga and Hamilton County. The process will continue throughout 2010. The team members will be building a new midsize sedan that is currently undergoing initial quality tests.