Reporting on its five-year Chattanooga Climbs economic goals, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce said its five-year goal of $1 billion in capital investment was reached and surpassed in three years.
At the Chattanooga Chamber Annual Meeting, presented by sponsor Chattanooga Gas, Jim Haley, immediate past chair of the Chattanooga Chamber Board of Directors, reported:
- Steam Logistics' investment downtown and the West Star Aviation expansion at the Chattanooga Airport led the way in capital investment over the 12-month fiscal year that ended June 30, 2022
- Over the same period, $38 million in capital investment helped create 685 jobs
- With a continued focus on talent development, Avondale’s Construction Career Center broke ground
In addition, DEVNET, Inc., HomeServe USA and Hudson Materials played a significant role in achieving those numbers.
The three-year cumulative results of the five-year Chattanooga Climbs plan include:
- Reaching and surpassing the goal of $1 billion in capital investment; total of $1,097,079,071 in investment funds
- The goal of a $55,000 average wage by 2024 is 91% complete; the average wage to date is $50,034
- The goal of creating 5,000 total jobs is 63% complete; a total of 3,147 jobs were created
- The goal of $500 million in new payroll is 63% complete; $314,507,385 in new payroll has been reached
Each year the Chattanooga Chamber recognizes the extraordinary leadership of member volunteers through awards for Council of the Year and Ambassador of the Year.
Christy Gillenwater, president and CEO, Chattanooga Chamber, honored 11 area Chattanooga Chamber councils and the International Business Council for dedicating more than 3,000 volunteer hours to our community.
Gillenwater announced that the Chattanooga Chamber Ooltewah Collegedale Council received the coveted Chamber Council of the Year Award. Their work included supporting small businesses with networking events, partnering with the local library, and implementing training programs focused on teaching soft skills.
Marcia Caldwell, office manager and marketing director, Embark Project Services, was named Chattanooga Chamber Ambassador of the Year. Mr. Haley recognized her exemplary integrity and professionalism in announcing the honor.
Board of Director Chair Janelle Reilly, Market CEO with CHI Memorial, thanked Mr. Haley and looked forward to achieving new goals together.
"You've been an incredible leader and role model,” Ms. Reilly said of Mr. Haley.
“We will continue our mission of championing member businesses and promoting regional economic growth – with the help of Paul Leath, our chair-elect, as well as our board of directors, our Chattanooga Chamber Council leaders, business leaders, key partners and many volunteers."
During the virtual meeting, Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly and Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp shared their perspectives on the region’s economy and Haley thanked them both along with Jim Coppinger, outgoing Hamilton County Mayor.
Mr. Kelly lauded the one-time infusion of federal funds as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, funds which will be used to help close opportunity gaps with the investment of $30 million into 36 local initiatives. Of that, $8.8 million will go toward workforce development projects.
Mr. Wamp emphasized the importance of continuing to equip workers with job-ready skills.
"My team and I stand ready to work with the Chamber on economic development issues while maintaining a laser focus on raising the bar in public education and building a workforce that meets the needs of current employers and new businesses that come to Hamilton County," Mr. Wamp said.
Ms. Gillenwater highlighted the past year’s public relations and talent recruitment outreach:
- 1.2 billion media impressions promoting Chattanooga
- ChattanoogaCalling.com attracted talent with over 38,000 users
- In collaboration with the Chattanooga Airport and Branch Technology, a 16-foot, 3D-printed Climbs Sculpture welcomes visitors and showcases ChattanoogaCalling.com
- New ChattanoogaTrend.com website
In addition, the Chattanooga Chamber's 2022 Annual Report covers the business case for diversity, equity and inclusion through initiatives to build diverse talent and enhance community wealth.
The Chattanooga Chamber manages the INCubator, housed in the Hamilton County Business Development Center. The INCubator reached 100% manufacturing capacity and 80% occupancy overall. INCubator clients created more than 250 jobs in diverse industry sectors. Recent program graduates include Branch Technology and Hoff & Pepper, which both expanded over the past year.
The annual report also highlights the Chamber's public policy initiatives of the past fiscal year which include monitoring more than 250 pieces of legislation while supporting Gov. Bill Lee's proposal for overhauling K-12 funding, Tax Increment Financing legislation for South Broad Revitalization, and funding for a new health science building at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga during the 2022 Tennessee General Assembly. The Chattanooga Chamber's policy agenda also included support for federal investments in workforce and skills training, early childhood education funding, workplace vaccine policies, and expanding Amtrak.
Continuing its track record of talent development and retention, 45 participants graduated from Leadership Chattanooga and 24 graduated from Protégé Chattanooga, both Chattanooga Chamber professional development programs.