The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce has named Maria Noel as its new director of Minority Business Assistance. Ms. Noel will be the first person to hold this position, which the Chattanooga Chamber has created to lead its newly established Minority Business Assistance Program.
According to Tom Edd Wilson, chamber president and CEO, Ms. Noel’s economic development experience and excellent community connections are key factors that position her for success in launching this new initiative. “The Minority Business Assistance Program can only succeed if area business leaders come together in developing and adopting strategies to foster job creation and positive economic activity among minority-owned companies,” Mr. Wilson said. “Maria has a great track record for engaging volunteer leaders in a way that gets things done.”
“I am excited about joining the Chattanooga Chamber team, which has done so much to establish our community as a national player in economic development,” said Ms. Noel. “I look forward to working with both the staff and the business community with a goal of supporting Chattanooga’s minority-owned businesses in making our economy into a national model for diversity and business friendliness.”
Ron Harr, the chamber’s in-coming president and CEO, stressed the importance of the Minority Business Assistance Program. “Our local economy cannot achieve its full potential until everyone in our community realizes his or her full economic potential,” Mr. Harr said. “Our Minority Business Assistance Program aims to assist emerging and existing minority business owners and entrepreneurs in maximizing their job and wealth creation in our city.”
According to Ms. Noel, her first step will be to engage minority business leaders in building out the plan for the initiative. “The chamber has a variety of effective programs including one of the nation’s largest and most successful business incubators,” she said. “In addition to marketing and adapting these programs to maximize the engagement of minority business owners, we will launch new efforts based on the expressed needs and priorities of the minority business community.”
From 2003 to the present, Ms. Noel has worked in economic development for The Enterprise Center where her duties allowed her to build strong connections among both businesspeople and residents in many urban communities. Her work included corporate recruitment, supporting existing industry expansion, communicating economic development incentives, business education, and leveraging public-private partnerships in support of community revitalization. The Renewal Community Program, which she managed, resulted in the construction or renovation of 75 buildings while supporting the creation of over 1,000 jobs.
Ms. Noel’s business experience also includes more than 25 years in marketing, public relations, and communications. In addition, Ms. Noel serves on the Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise Board, where she is a member of the Executive, Finance and Governance Committees. She is also vice president of Programs and Special Events for the Chattanooga Technology Council Board and has served on the board of the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority.
A native of Chattanooga, Ms. Noel earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She is a 1988 graduate of Leadership Chattanooga.