By Mark Jones
Community News Managing Editor
The Hixson Council of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce got a recap of business-oriented activity within the Tennessee Legislature this year from speaker Hayes Ledford, vice president of public policy for the Chamber.
“We want to make sure government is a partner and not a roadblock to business,” said Mr. Ledford. “We had some big wins this year.”
Much of the success during the past year was associated with education, according to Mr. Ledford, who explained that improvements in the classroom have a significant impact of the local work force and the area’s ability to attract good jobs and more economic development.
“Education and economic development work together —; two sides of the same coin,” said Mr. Ledford.
He said strides were made for better school funding equity throughout the state. Hamilton County currently ranks last in state funds for per pupil spending, causing the county to shoulder more of a burden through local taxes. He said improvements to the basic funding plan could mean an increase of “millions of dollars” for Hamilton County from the state.
He also said the introduction of financial literacy training, which was highly touted throughout the business community, will provide fundamental resources for students in areas such as taxes, credit, debt management and insurance.
He explained that academies and vocational technology were keys to providing high quality education and training systems.
In addition he included continued improvements at Enterprise South and boosting the city’s air service as important elements to keep Hamilton County a viable economic development interest.
“This community is addressing its needs,” said Mr. Ledford.
Also during the monthly meeting, Hixson Chamber Council members unanimously elected officers and board members for the 2006-07 year. Outgoing President Donald Kane said that David Queen will be taking over the role as president; Marcia Martin, president-elect; Tammy Zumbrun, vice president of programming; Suzanne Bidek, secretary; Grant Summerlin, treasurer; and Marv Martin, vice president of membership.
The Chamber Council added 26 new members during the past year and increased by approximately 50 in the past two years.