White favors UTC presence downtown

White favors UTC presence downtown

August 7th, 2009 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

New RiverCity Co. chief executive Kim White said Thursday she wants to better plug UTC into downtown and for it possibly to have a physical presence in the central city.

"Somebody said the (BlueCross) Gold Building could become the Blue and Gold Building," she said.

While she said she understands the current tough economic environment, there are opportunities for filling BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee buildings now on the market with the construction of the insurer's new headquarters.

"Wouldn't it be great to see UTC with part of its campus downtown," she said at a meeting of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's Downtown Council. "Think of the impact it could have. Maybe with community support we could make that happen."

Mrs. White, who came on board at the nonprofit downtown redevelopment group July 1, called for merchants to make the student body feel more welcome.

She urged them to wear blue and gold on days in which there are football games.

"Put up banners. Display UTC paraphernalia," Mrs. White said.

The RiverCity chief also said the group is working on a strategic plan as well as a marketing and branding effort.

"We're looking at where we go in the future," she said. "We're in the midst of a major retooling."

Mrs. White said people can go to its Web site and offer suggestions.

Concerning the future reuse of the Wheland and U.S. Pipe properties off South Broad Street, she said its redevelopment has much to do with timing and the economy.

Ann Weeks, who has been active for years in that area, said a lot is under way in the South Broad area.

"There's a lot on the front and back burners," she said.