Aug. 24, 2016 (Chattanooga, Tenn.) – At the Chattanooga Chamber’s Annual Meeting today, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger presented the first Mayors’ Arts Award to Unum, recognizing business support for the arts.
Unum received recognition for encouraging employees to pursue arts-related volunteer opportunities, supporting ArtsBuild and the Hunter Museum of American Art, and for ongoing work with the Association for Visual Arts.
“Business and the arts are so important in our city,” said Rick McKenney, Unum President & CEO. “The arts are an economic engine, and it’s important we appreciate the arts for our people.”
The mayors created the Mayors’ Art Award to recognize a business that goes above and beyond to support local art throughout Chattanooga and Hamilton County.
“Our lives are richer because of art, and today we are happy to honor the businesses who contribute to our Hamilton County culture through their support of the arts,” Hamilton County Mayor Coppinger said. “We thank them for their initiative, their support and their celebration of all the elements that constitute art.”
“The arts not only create a sense of place and enhance quality of life, they boost our local economy by attracting new residents, businesses, and visitors to Chattanooga,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “With The Mayors' Award for the Arts, we are honoring those businesses that understand the importance of art in a community and demonstrate that commitment by serving as advocates for the arts and our local artists.”
Gov. Bill Haslam keynoted the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, speaking about Tennessee’s progress in economic development, creating jobs, higher education including Tennessee Promise, and other initiatives.
“We’re working hard in state government to make Tennessee the very best state in the country and good things are happening,” Haslam said. “We are number one in the nation for manufacturing job growth, advanced industry job growth and job creation resulting from foreign direct investment. Our record of conservative fiscal management has led to the highest bond ratings issued by all three major credit rating agencies – triple-AAA status. Our Drive to 55 is working with more students going to college. Tennessee is the fastest improving state in the country in K-12 academic achievement. And this year we made the largest investment in K-12 education without a tax increase in Tennessee’s history – $258 million, including more than $100 million for teacher salaries.”
Bill Kilbride, Chamber President and CEO, gave Chamber updates ranging from the Chamber’s workforce development efforts to Chamber-supported economic development projects over the last year, representing direct investment of $242 million.
Kilbride awarded the Chamber’s MidTown Council the Council of the Year award, of the Chamber’s 12 area councils.
Kilbride also recognized:
- Chamber Ambassador of the Year Cindy Steele, Tandem Financial Partners, as well as
- Dana Bolin, COMTRUST Federal Credit Union
- Constance Coffman, Chattanooga Courtyard Hamilton Place
- David Hamilton, Santek Waste Services
- Pat Mahery, SendOut Cards
- Eddie Wilkes, Add Ink
Chamber Ambassadors build strong relationships within the business community by serving as the Chamber’s member relations team. Ambassadors visit new Chamber members and call on existing members throughout the year. They also represent Chamber members at grand openings and ribbon cuttings.