Policy & Education
This year the Chamber focused on education, workforce and economic development and substantial collaboration with Chattanooga 2.0. Staff and volunteers engaged in legislative processes at local, state and federal levels. They frequently consulted policymakers and their staffs on key issues and briefed them on Chamber positions and initiatives.
The Chamber supported U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann’s efforts to expand the presence of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in our region. These efforts culminated in the opening of an ORNL office in the heart of Chattanooga’s Innovation District. Supported by robust partnerships, the ORNL Chattanooga office will leverage the city’s gig infrastructure to connect local entrepreneurial and tech innovation more directly with ORNL.
The Chamber also supported the Governor’s Tennessee Reconnect initiative, which extends the opportunity for free community college to all qualified adults in the state. Tennessee Reconnect builds upon the Tennessee Promise program.
The Chamber supported the Governor’s successful transportation and tax relief package (known as the “IMPROVE Act”). The resulting investments that will be made in the region’s transportation infrastructure ($600 million in Hamilton County and at least $400 million in neighboring counties) are critical to our community’s long-term growth. “IMPROVE Act’s” tax relief will preserve Tennessee’s competitive position for major manufacturing relocations and expansions.
The Chamber has continued to assert the business community’s stakeholder status in the region’s exciting Chattanooga 2.0 movement, with a particular emphasis on aligning educational outcomes with existing and anticipated workforce needs.
Connecting the Dots
More than 2,300 volunteers from more than 200 companies energize the Chamber’s engagement with education and workforce development, impacting 16,500 students and most of the county’s public schools.
A number of local educational institutions have partnered with businesses to refine program offerings and curricula, expand opportunities for experiential learning and strengthen the cradle-to-career pipeline. Programs such as the school-to-work model at Gestamp and Chattanooga State Community College’s new Polytech Academy continue to serve as examples for the region. Meanwhile, Volkswagen’s Mechatronics Akademie doubled the number of participating students this year and the annual Spring Job Fair drew more than 1,000 job-seekers and 80+ regional employers. In addition, Leadership Chattanooga received a record number of nearly 100 applications this year.