The Chamber has been actively engaging the Chattanooga business community in our Economic Inclusion work. This year proved to be challenging for many, in light of COVID-19, but the team quickly pivoted our work to virtual platforms to continue conversations around inclusion.
The Chattanooga Chamber held four Unity Networking Breakfasts to encourage individuals to connect and grow their network. These event focus’ on underserved populations and help connect them to the larger business community. In light of COVID-19, these events shifted to focus on connecting diverse businesses in our community with available resources. The Chamber Talent & Economic Inclusion team partnered with the Marketing & Communications team to host a variety of webinars, with over 100 businesses attending seeking access to funding supports.
Focusing on diverse talent retention, The Styles L. Hutchins Fellowship is a collaboration between the Chamber, the City of Chattanooga and the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga. The Styles L. Hutchins Fellowship works to create a plan that will elevate Chattanooga as a city where diverse talent can create a prosperous future. The cohort presented their initial research and recommendations in January 2020 to community members. Spring 2020 Fellows are continuing their research and work to implement recommendations.
In June, The Chamber held DIVERSIFY, a virtual summit highlighting diversity, inclusion and the 21st century workplace. The event provided a timely platform for diverse business owners and professionals as well as their allies during the unrest sweeping our country that spotlights the high cost of racial and economic inequality. To ensure the health and safety of our entire community, the DIVERSIFY Summit was held online this year. DIVERSIFY featured breakout sessions led by industry professionals and a keynote presentation by Manuel Pastor, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at University of Southern California. We saw a 166% increase in attendance from last year.