CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — When businesses are looking to locate their operations, a local chamber of commerce can provide valuable information and resources.
The Chattanooga Chamber spoke with News 12 about how they’re driving our economy forward.
“The chamber has an economic development arm that really acts as a sort of first point of contact for businesses looking for a new location,” said Charles Wood, interim executive director. “They usually look at multiple cities that are in the southeastern United States and sometimes more broadly or even nationally. That is why we cooperate with them on many issues. The former usually helps to ensure that there is a suitable workforce for them. That there is a suitable location, a place where they can put a building, an object. And then from there it’s really about connecting them within the community.”
Wood says their main mission is to have great employers in the Chattanooga region that pay good wages and boost the local economy.
“We’ve really built an economic engine that’s going to power Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia and really create a lot of opportunity for families across the region,” Wood said. “The Komatsu project was really one of the first economic development projects in which the chamber and the city and municipality worked together. And they have been here for over 30 years. I think they’re close to 35. Volkswagen in particular, I think, gave us a level of economic activity that attracted more employers to the market.”
He adds that the Chattanooga area has had some outstanding leaders who have helped strengthen the economy as well.
“People like Senator Corker, who championed the riverfront, and some great, great people who invested heavily in Enterprise South to get us ready. If you think about Claude Ramsey and what he did as mayor,” Wood said. “We didn’t get here by accident. I think we’ve benefited from tremendous leadership across sectors in the business community, from elected leaders in our internal philanthropic community. And they invested a lot in infrastructure and resources in public places, which really put us in a great position to be really successful in the long term.”
Wood says the Chattanooga area’s economic engine in the market is very diverse.
“We have great financial services with companies like Blue Cross and Unum, a significant manufacturing base. And then a really booming entrepreneurial start-up scene,” he said. “For a city of our size, we’ve been incredibly successful. I think that brings some challenges, but overall it means more opportunities for the people who live here.”