Chattanooga on the move

Chattanooga on the move

October 15th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

Chattanooga, like the rest of the nation, has suffered during the economic difficulties of the past few years. But Chattanooga has had a number of advantages that a lot of other cities across the country have not enjoyed -- advantages that are helping our city weather the economic downturn better than many cities have.

Decades ago, forward-thinking private citizens and local officials began the process of investing in and revitalizing our downtown and both sides of our riverfront.

With additions such as the Tennessee Aquarium and various parks, they succeeded in making the area a delightful, appealing place for residents and tourists alike.

Those and many other improvements -- as well as an eager workforce and other factors -- helped position Chattanooga for major economic developments that have come in more recent years. They, of course, include the billion-dollar Volkswagen manufacturing plant and a large distribution center for online retailer Amazon at Enterprise South industrial park.

Wise planning and varied investments are beginning to pay dividends to our city's residents, despite the national economic crisis.

In fact, Chattanooga is faring much better these days than many cities are.

In the 12 months that ended this past August, the Chattanooga metropolitan area added more than 5,500 jobs!

Local job growth over the past year was almost 10 times the national level of growth, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Growth is coming not only in manufacturing but also in a variety of other enterprises. There is much enthusiasm about Chattanooga overall.

"Our area now is attracting a lot of very bright and talented entrepreneurs," said Kim White, president of the River City Co., a downtown development agency.

And Matt Kisber, a former Tennessee commissioner of economic and community development, said people from around the Southeast "ask me what is going on in Chattanooga." He added, "When you look at what's happening in Chattanooga, it's really exciting."

Of course, that doesn't mean that unemployment isn't a problem in our area, as it is throughout our country. But a general sense of justified optimism prevails here. Residents of Chattanooga and the surrounding area are confident that better times are coming -- and we are willing to roll up our sleeves and work hard to bring about those better times.

That attitude benefits us all economically, and makes Chattanooga an excellent place to call home.