While most of the world was forced to pause for much of last year, Chattanooga Chamber’s Talent Initiatives team went to work providing resources for employers and their staff. We came together to support our community through unemployment resources, remote worker information and job announcements in English and Spanish.
Despite the pandemic, our team experienced some great wins during 2020-21. We received $90,000 from Regions Foundation to execute several cohorts of Skill Up and $50,000 from the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA) in support of young entrepreneurs. We also utilized CARES funding to carry out two cohorts of 15 people in December, all of whom received full-time employment offers after completing their program.
Thanks to our dedicated team, we are now within reach of fulfilling many Chattanooga CLIMBS initiatives. We secured 150 employers (out of 200 in CLIMBS goal) who support our Future Ready Institutes and 100 employers (out of 250 in CLIMBS goal) participating in apprenticeships, work-based learning and internship programs. We also launched an additional branded Future Ready Institute with Cempa Community Care at East Ridge High School and launched Legacybox Academy, a work-based learning program that engages local students in several of our highest-need schools.
New Talent Website Opens More Doors
It’s no secret that Chattanooga is home to some of the best jobs in Tennessee. In 2020, we highlighted Chattanooga to the world with the launch of a brand-new website, Chattanooga Calling. This site outperformed our expectations in 2021, reaching nearly 45,000 page views and 16,000 job searches—at least half of which were organically reached.
Additionally, we managed to garner nearly 1 million impressions and roughly 10,000 ad clicks through paid Facebook and Instagram ads. This social media buzz allowed us to fulfill our goal of reaching new talent in southeastern metros around Chattanooga.
We also experienced unprecedented success using Google search ads, with more than 75,000 impressions and a conversion rate of over 70 percent. These ads reached potential talent from high-cost markets like New York, where Chattanooga continued to appear in their “best jobs ever” search.
As remote work becomes the new standard, we’re incentivizing relocations to Chattanooga through our Business/Casual Pass program which offers visitors exclusive perks including discounts on co-working spaces, local attractions and a chance to win one of six staycation packages.
Outdoor and Online Events
Due to the pandemic, our community leadership programs shifted virtually. However, we were able to convene safely during spring. We held four virtual events as part of our “Talent Upload: Virtual Roundtable Series.” These events focused on childcare resources, youth apprenticeships and talent attraction and retention:
- Future of Chattanooga: Childcare & Early Development
- Evolve Your Talent Attraction & Retention Approach
- DIVERSIFY 2021: Supporting Diverse Talent Details
- Developing Talent for the Future World of Work
Leadership Development and Civic Engagement
This year, 44 members graduated from Leadership Chattanooga. Our members virtually connected with industry leaders over 10 months to explore our community’s strengths and weaknesses through six different community-focused projects. Monthly sessions covered many issues including local government, disparities in healthcare and education during COVID-19.
We also saw 25 mentees graduate from Protégé Chattanooga. This diverse group of early and mid-career professionals from various industry sectors met online over nine months. Our mentees connected with their peers and mentors to grow as new business leaders for Chattanooga.
We reached 574 active members in Young Professionals of Chattanooga and 112 alumni members of the Leadership Chattanooga Alumni Association (LCAA). Through the LCAA, we hosted our annual meeting with 115 attendees, hosted the 2021 Chattanooga Mayoral Candidates Forum and featured a panel on Hamilton County’s response to COVID-19. We also held three virtual ChattaNewbies events with 20 average attendees.
We anticipated setbacks due to COVID-19, but our dedicated team and community partners kept moving forward. Now more than ever, attracting and retaining talented individuals remains our highest priority. We look forward to another year of success.