Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press Governor-elect Bill Haslam answers questions from the media in the lobby of the Chattanooga Choo Choo before meeting with area mayors for lunch on Thursday.
Gov.-elect Bill Haslam said the Chattanooga area's recent success landing major industries gives it a leg up in the push for new jobs.
"Obviously we're building on some success here, and that's a lot easier to do than starting from scratch," said Haslam, who was in Chattanooga on Thursday.
Haslam met Thursday with local elected leaders at the Chattanooga Choo Choo to discuss job creation.
In the past two years, two $1 billion factories have come to the area -- Volkswagen in Chattanooga and Wacker Chemical in Bradley County.
Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey said he hopes Haslam can help the county with jobs, education and infrastructure.
"Our relationship is extremely important," Ramsey said. "I hope we'll have a good relationship with Gov. Haslam."
Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said he's looking forward to working with the new governor to "keep the progressive trend we've been enjoying" moving forward.
He said Haslam, who is mayor of Knoxville, "knows what we deal with every day."
In a meeting with reporters beforehand, however, Haslam offered few specifics about his plans for job creation, the upcoming budget or who would serve on his transition team and in his Cabinet.
"We're not ready to name a transition team at all," Haslam said. "We're a good deal of time away from naming a Cabinet. We want to get it right. I've made good hires and bad hires before in my life; it takes a lot longer to fix a bad hire."
He said he is considering people from Hamilton County but did not offer any names.
Haslam said he is beginning the process of working with state departments to prepare the upcoming budget, but again, didn't want to talk about areas he might cut.
"It's too early to talk about that," Haslam said. "I've said from when I first started running, there's an 800-pound gorilla waiting on the next governor -- a very difficult budget -- and that hasn't changed."
He said the budget would focus on "key things facing the state" such as jobs and education.
Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...