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Tennessee watchdog group gives Volkswagen Chattanooga a dubious distinction

Volkswagen ornaments sit in a box in a scrap yard in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

The Beacon Center, a watchdog group dedicated to pointing out cases of government waste, fraud and abuse, has named Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant the winner of its inaugural "corporate handout classic," an online poll based loosely on the NCAA College Basketball Tournament.

The promotion was called the "Corporate Handout Classic," and listed eight Tennessee companies that have recently received government funds. The list included Wacker Chemie Polysilicon plant in Bradley County.

On Tuesday, the day after the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament concluded with a Villanova win, the Beacon Center announced that Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant had won the online poll.

A release from the Beacon Center says, "Although Wacker Chemie took in over $200 million in handouts, VW still won 68% of the vote in the finals to snag the "win." There were hundreds of votes cast throughout the Classic that led to VW being crowned the worst example of corporate handouts in Tennessee. VW received more than $800 million from state taxpayers for training, land improvement, and infrastructure, among other things, all prior to Volkswagen's emissions scandal."

While the release is titled "Tennesseans Vote Volkswagen Chattanooga as Worst Example of Corporate Handouts," Mark Cunningham of the Beacon Center confirms to NewsChannel 9 that the online poll didn't only feature Tennesseeans, but he says that "the vast majority" of voters in the online poll were from the Volunteer State.

The release goes on to say, "Beacon CEO Justin Owen stated, "After Villanova's thrilling victory last night, the madness ended for basketball fans. Unfortunately for Tennesseans, their tax dollars continue to be spent on corporate favoritism. Volkswagen's victory in Beacon's Inaugural Corporate Handout Classic is a clear indication from taxpayers that it's time for taxpayers to hold their government accountable."

You can see more details about the "Corporate Handout Classic" here.

Volkswagen announced it was building a plant in Chattanooga in 2008. It employs 3200 people. Its website says the plant's impact results in a $12 billion expected income growth in Tennessee, as well as $1.4 billion in total tax revenues in Tennessee.

Volkswagen has not yet responded to the Beacon Center's poll.


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