VW Completes Enormous Taxpayer-Funded Sign Atop Chattanooga Plant
Volkswagen just completed a massive rooftop sign at their new Chattanooga, TN plant designed to be visible on Google Earth, and they didn’t even pay for it– taxpayers did.
The sign reportedly measures 650 feet by 208 feet and is mounted atop the factory’s body shop, according to the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. The plant’s General Manager of Communications, Guenther Scherelis told the paper the goal was for it to be visible not just to local air travelers, but also on Google Earth.
The massive advertising effort was paid for with a $266,200 grant awarded from the State of Tennessee as part of its package of sweeteners designed to lure VW to the state in the first place. Government watchdog group The Beacon Center decried the expenditure as wasteful use of taxpayer money. According to an earlier Times-Free Press article, Beacon CEO Justin Owen called it “a pathetic waste of taxpayer money.” It was part of a package of more than $500 million in incentives state and local officials used to convince Volkswagen that Tennessee was the best place to locate its newest manufacturing facility, and reportedly came out of a fund of $2 million in state money that was earmarked for VW marketing and public relations efforts.
Questioned about the Beacon Center’s rating the expenditures on VW as “wasteful pork,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) said, “That’s been their view for a while. The truth is we live in a very competitive world, and I don’t think we’re just going to unilaterally disarm and say we’re going to quit doing that.”
Such deals between large employers and local and state governments are fairly common, as evidenced by this concerned whitepaper from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank authored by Adam M. Zaretsky in January, 1994.
The massive Volkswagen Chattanooga sign was reportedly completed last week, and is the first of its kind among more than 60 manufacturing facilities VW owns worldwide, according to Scherelis. He said it’s a sign VW feels at home in America, according to theTimes Free-Press.