The Ooltewah-Collegedale Council of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce wants to know what its friends and neighbors think about local economic development.
A special committee from that council has organized a general assembly meeting that will give area residents and business owners the opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns and find out more about local economic development issues.
The open meeting is Thursday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. in Collegedale's Municipal Building, located at 4910 Swinyar Drive.
"The Chamber is doing this for the benefit of the community," said event moderator Joshua Michalski. "We want it to be a positive and solutions-oriented discussion, not just an opportunity to identify problems for the sake of identifying problems."
The moderated forum will give people the opportunity to ask local panelists questions about issues related to economic development. Those questions not related to economic development will not be answered, said Michalski.
"We're not going to get into unrelated issues like traffic, garbage or public policy that doesn't relate to economic development," he said. "The questions that don't fit with the topic won't be read."
Panelists who will be answering questions at the meeting include: city of Collegedale strategic planner Kelly Martin, city of Chattanooga District 4 City Councilman Jack Benson, Hamilton County District 9 Commissioner Chester Bankston, Hamilton County District 7 Commissioner Larry Henry, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency Executive Director John Bridger, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Public Policy Rob Bradham, Chattanooga Area of Commerce Vice President of Economic Development Charles Wood and Ooltewah-Collegedale Chamber Council president Jamie Kyle.
"We're hoping it's going to be a great way for the community and business leaders to submit concerns they have and a way to give influential decision makers local opinions," said Michalski.
After this month's meeting, he said the committee will hold another closed meeting in April to work on developing solutions for issues raised at January's meeting. The group will also work to answer any questions that weren't answered at the first meeting. The committee will then present its solutions and findings at another open meeting in June before opening the floor for additional questions and concerns.
Those long-term issues that aren't resolved between January and June will also likely become part of the local council's strategic plan for the next year, said Michalski.