Cheddar TV, Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Radio recently interviewed Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly about Chattanooga’s reputation as the best place for remote workers to relocate. The mayor’s New York media tour came as a collaboration between the City of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce to increase the Scenic City’s visibility through strategic public relations focused on economic and talent development.
Kelly launched his tour on Cheddar, a live show broadcast from the New York Stock Exchange. Here, the mayor addressed goals to prioritize work on economic development and pandemic recovery, as well as keeping a campaign commitment to work on assisting those without shelter.
“The good news is the economy has held up quite well. Tennessee is a sales tax-driven state and my predecessor budgeted very conservatively as you might imagine, as he should have during the pandemic. But we finished the year with a bit of a surplus and so we just got our budget passed for next year,” Kelly said, adding that his focus will be to continue increasing vaccination rates for health, safety and as an economic recovery driver.
As an example of addressing pandemic recovery, Kelly and his administration launched Vax 4 Cash Sweepstakes which provides incentives for people to get vaccinations. Those who are vaccinated and who enter, can be chosen to win up to $1,000 and the cash is awarded each week. Incentives have so far helped increase the vaccination rate in Hamilton County to around 50 percent as of October — bringing the county within reach of the Healthy Chattanooga Coalition goal of 60 percent vaccination rate by December.
On Cheddar, Mayor Kelly quickly pointed out Chattanooga’s growing reputation as the best city for remote workers. Citing the Zillow.com ranking, Cheddar’s Ken Buffa asked Kelly to expand.
“Chattanooga is a beautiful city,” Kelly said. “Very green, miles and miles of hiking trails, biking trails.”
In a conversation with Bloomberg Radio’s Carol Massar, Kelly talked further about Chattanooga’s pandemic recovery plan and went into detail about EPB’s successful collaboration with Hamilton County Schools to provide free, high-speed internet to students who qualify for reduced lunch through its HCS EdConnect program. HCS EdConnect has been nationally recognized as a results-oriented program that helps bridge the digital divide.
Kelly went on to say that the fastest internet on the planet also attracts people and business decision-makers. “We have very fast, cheap fiber thanks to the Electric Power Board — and it has drawn a lot of people to town. We have great outdoor amenities and we saw a great influx of people over the last [two] years. It’s been quite a story. We picked up a lot of residents from larger metros and it seems to be something that’s here to stay.”
Taylor Riggs on “Bloomberg Markets: The Close” asked Kelly about plans to weather Chattanooga’s economy through the pandemic with supply chains and employment at an all-time low. Kelly acknowledged manufacturing shortages affecting production, then reaffirmed that Volkswagen’s Chattanooga investment in electric vehicles remains firm with the first ID.4 SUVs expected to reach Chattanooga assembly lines soon.
Kelly told Riggs, he was pleased the Chattanooga City Council recently unanimously voted to pass his first proposed budget bill, which allocates funds for essential workers, community safety and pay increases to first responders.
The budget bill also includes a $40 million commitment toward infrastructure and neighborhood livability, with funds directed to projects including $1.8 million for sidewalk construction and repair, and $1.6 million for CARTA.
Watch the Cheddar interview, here.
Watch the Bloomberg interview, here.
Listen to full Bloomberg Radio interview, here.