Better Together: How the Greater Chattanooga Economic Partnership Landed Nokian Tyres

By Amanda Ellis

You probably think about Chattanooga as a city of nearly 200,000 people, but did you know that the population of our 16-county region is more than 1 million? That’s a lot more people for businesses to employ, and when businesses move here and grow here, we all win. That’s what’s behind the Greater Chattanooga Economic Partnership (GCEP), the regional economic development effort the Chattanooga Chamber has led since 2016. Through GCEP, the Chattanooga Chamber still leads economic development for Chattanooga and Hamilton County, and also partners with 15 other counties in Northeast Alabama, Northwest Georgia and Southeast Tennessee to market our region. GCEP is a one-stop point of contact for helping businesses with:

› Site selection 

› Workforce support 

› Incentive coordination

› Community visits 

This helps our region better compete with other regional economic development groups. When companies look for new locations, they don’t focus on political boundaries, rather assets like labor draw and available workforce, transportation corridors, regional education institutions and proximity to customers.

GCEP focuses on broader recognition of these resources, and that’s how our region landed Finnish tire manufacturer Nokian Tyres in Rhea County, Tennessee — the largest investment ever in Rhea County at more than $360 million and 400 jobs. Announced in 2017, the project is already changing lives. More than 70 people now staff the facility, and 40 of them traveled to Finland and Russia for six weeks of training, this overseas travel a firsttime experience for some.

Nokian plans to manufacture 4 million tires a year at full production, and hiring continues to ramp up toward a goal of 150 employees by the end of 2019. In addition to the 830,000-square-foot production facility, Nokian’s Rhea County administration building boasts these amenities: gym, garden, cafeteria, locker rooms, sauna and patios overlooking an outdoor green space with a pond, trees and a walking path.

Are you recruiting talent to our area?

GCEP accelerates job creation, generates investment and increases awareness of the Chattanooga region as a great business location. As part of that effort, GCEP produces an annual magazine — “Greater Chattanooga Economic Development” — to tell the stories of our thriving companies, people and entrepreneurial ventures. Featuring stats and demographics, great photography and the fun parts of living in our area — like endless opportunity for outdoor recreation, this publication provides an excellent resource for non-local recruiting or for helping new residents and visitors learn about our Chattanooga region.

If you or your business would like complimentary copies of this publication, contact Amanda Ellis at aellis@chattanoogachamber.com for more information. Learn more about GCEP, and why our region is the best place for business, at greaterchatt.com or livability.com/chattanooga