Chattanooga Express Card Brings Business Back to Downtown

Josué Vega, Marketing & Communications Intern

If you’ve been around Chattanooga a lot, you might have become desensitized to what an amazing tourist spot it is. After all, we have one of the nation’s best riverwalks, a gorgeous art scene (both indoor and outdoor), fresh restaurants, and quality entertainment. Wrap it all up in the cozy, diverse streets of Chattanooga, and you have a city that yearns to be explored.


Enter the Chattanooga Express Card.


On June 1st of this year, River City Company released this handy gift card as a way to draw business back into downtown Chattanooga. “Downtown was impacted the most by the stay-at–home orders during the COVID shutdown,” Dawn Hjelseth, Vice President of Marketing and Communication, River City Company, says. “Even today, we see fewer people in downtown than pre-pandemic.  We want to remind people that a lot of your favorite places are still open.”


85 businesses have signed up to be Chattanooga Express Card friendly facilities (as of Tuesday, August 31—the number of businesses joining is still growing!). They include restaurants, retail shops, the Chattanooga Theatre Center, and much more—aka everything you’ll ever need to plan the perfect day trip. 


Of course, one of the best perks of the card is the “buy one, get one” offer that is given when you put $50 or more on the card. For a card between $50-$74, buyers are given an extra $10 on their card. For $75 and up, they are gifted $25. Every so often, River City Company will run a special, and participants who place $100 and up on their card receive an extra $50 free.


The card is electronic, delivered to clients within an hour, and is best used by presenting it on your phone at payment time. “It looks just like a MasterCard does,” Hjelseth says. “It has a 16 digit number and an expiration date on it. So you just show the card number on your phone to the cashier or the server, and they take down the number and process your payment.” For those who are more old school, never fear—Hjelseth assures that the card can be printed out and used that way as well. 


Both clients and businesses can rest assured that they are not buying into any trap, as 100% of the money on the card goes to the local businesses. River City Company does not charge a dime for providing this service.


Many local businesses are already jumping on this opportunity, not only signing their businesses up as Chattanooga express card friendly, but buying large amounts of cards to give their employees as holiday gifts or appreciation bonuses. To sign up, businesses simply fill out the online form. To order in large amounts, businesses just call up River City Company, who are happy to make the large orders easy to purchase. 


So far, the card is working splendidly, with $80,000 worth of cards sold. People are gathering back in downtown, hailing from distances like Soddy Daisy and Northern Georgia. Even tourists from other states have purchased the card. The Chattanooga Express Card has begun pumping new life into the heart of our city. Why not see what it’s all about?

To purchase a card or sign up your business to be Chattanooga Express Card friendly, click here. 

Other Topics

If you were to take a quick survey of national headlines, you’d encounter gloom and doom-type discussions around commercial real estate. Much of this is thanks to the popularity of remote work, a trend accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.   As…

Protege Chattanooga is a nine-month program that matches early-to-mid-career professionals with a red-carpet list of regional leaders. The end goal? Unforgettable connection among young professionals paired with a viable, noteworthy mentorship with real-world leaders.   It's all by design, as the…

To coincide with Earth Day weekend, Leadership Chattanooga's 40th annual class made history, spending the day doing what had never been done in program history.  One giant day of service.   Some 40 members of the 2023/2024 graduating class split into…

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Small Business Awards sheds a light on local companies that serve as examples of excellence within our community and help us build a thriving Chattanooga. This week, we announced our winners at the…

When people hear the news – Melody Shekari was named the new head of the Women's Fund of Greater Chattanooga – they often say the same thing:  She's a perfect fit.  "A lot of people say it fits who I…

On April 18, Fleurette Fitch – a 21-year employee of Shaw Industries – was honored at a Washington DC gala for her outstanding manufacturing career. That evening, the Manufacturing Institute recognized Fitch as a Women MAKE Award honoree for her…

Sign up for weekly updates.