Image caption: Economic development professionals assess a potential site for a future industrial park.
As we prepare for the curtain call on 2022 in just a few short weeks, this month TREND will post a series of articles highlighting the year’s top accomplishments from the divisions of your Chattanooga Chamber. First up for this week: Here’s the best of what happened in the world of economic development.
Three years ahead of schedule, the Chamber surpassed the $1 billion capital investment goal outlined in the Chattanooga Climbs five-year strategic plan. Key projects included Steam Logistics’ investment in the Innovation District and West Star Aviation’s expansion at the Chattanooga Airport.
In collaboration with our partners, the Chamber announced 685 new jobs with more than $38 million in capital investment came to the Chattanooga region over the last fiscal year. And existing employers – companies like HomeServe, Hudson Materials and West Star Aviation – contributed significantly toward hitting those numbers. Target-sector projects accounted for 29% of this capital investment, and 83% of the new direct jobs.
The economic development team has been busy laying the groundwork for additional growth and prosperity. In the last year, this dynamic arm of the Chamber has:
- Conducted 152 meetings with existing companies, 95% of which were with industries targeted in Chattanooga Climbs
- Submitted 20 formal Requests for Information (RFIs) to site-selection consultants
- Coordinated 19 site visits for companies in a variety of industries
- Added 92 new projects to the pipeline
- Supported TIF for a $100 million North River Commerce Park development which will result in 800,000 square feet of new speculative class “A” industrial space
- Completed a detailed evaluation of four Hamilton County properties, including McDonald Farm
- Announced Chattanooga Foreign Trade Zone activity valued at $4.2 billion. Zone-related employment was 4,592 jobs with related exports valued at $570 million.
This year the Economic Development team’s focus expanded to include talent development. As a critical piece of what’s needed to grow Chattanooga’s economy, the Chamber invested in projects to prepare local students for career-track jobs, develop worker skills for emerging industries, and increase regional prosperity for all.
Through a collaboration with Chattanooga State Community College, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and the Association of General Contractors, Hamilton County Schools launched the new Construction Career Center in Chattanooga’s Avondale neighborhood. Students attending the Center will be able to earn post-secondary credits and gain onsite experience in new fields, thus preparing them for high-quality jobs in construction and related trades.
Future-Ready Institutes continue to be a high priority for Talent Development: NOVONIX’s investment in Hamilton County Schools with the creation of its Institute of Advanced Battery Technology was a major achievement in 2022. These partnerships are critical to the Chamber’s continued focus on ensuring our young people are ready to compete in tomorrow’s economy.
Finally, resources available at ChattanoogaCalling.com were expanded to include an employer toolkit, as well as a greater depth of information for talent interested in developing skills to facilitate a career change.
On the heels of the pandemic, the Chamber’s INCubator has experienced an increase in successful start-up companies, with an astonishing 100% occupancy rate for manufacturing space and an 80% occupancy rate overall.
Housed at the Hamilton County Business Development Center on Chattanooga’s Northshore, “The INC” is currently home to 46 entrepreneurial enterprises that support over 250 jobs in a diversity of sectors including: Food and Beverage, Software and Technology, Outdoor Products, Creative Media, Service, and Manufacturing. The INCubator now has a 34+ year track record, with over 600 businesses having graduated, representing over 4,500 jobs added to the community.
One of The INCubator’s more successful graduates, Branch Technology began their startup journey there with just three employees and 5,000 square feet. The company has grown to 50+ workers and 50,000 square feet of commercial/industrial space, with plans to triple their facility footprint and workforce to fulfill ever-increasing demand for their product.
Hoff & Pepper, a more recent INCubator graduate, started there with just two employees occupying 800 square feet. The spicy aroma from their small-batch hot sauces that once aromatized The INC’s hallways can now be found at thousands of retail locations nationwide. Today, Hoff & Pepper’s 30 employees operate out of a 40,000 square foot building in Chattanooga.
This year The INC welcomed 16 new startup companies to their Northshore facility:
- Access Art Therapy
- Archbound Media – digital marketing services
- Dazu Creative
- DesJaney – All Natural Soaps
- K’s Tenn Cans
- ENAK Industries – General Contractor
- Fair Flies – Fishing Gear
- Forget Me Not Candles
- Fluff Media – animation and videography agency
- Layerworks Solutions – 3D printing
- Mountaintop Wealth- Financial Planning
- Pulse Foods – protein snack company
- Restorative Massage
- ShoeTizer – medical sanitization company
- STUBL – Hair Augmentation