Five trends for 2019 likely to reshape Chattanooga's economy

What lies ahead for a growing Chattanooga in 2019?

In the past decade, Southeast Tennessee landed multi-billion-dollar investments from two German companies (Volkswagen and Wacker Chemical) and lured one of the state's biggest employment additions from the world's biggest online retailer (Amazon) to help add more than $5 billion of new investment and nearly 40,000 more jobs in the Chattanooga trade area since 2009. Such growth has changed the complexion of Chattanooga's business profile.

As the ongoing economic recovery approaches a decade of sustained growth this year, we highlight five trends for 2019 that are likely to continue to grow and reshape the Chattanooga area economy.

* Technology and automation are reshaping the world of commerce and the way we work. More jobs will be automated but others will be created, usually with higher skill demands.

* New governors and legislative leaders will bring new voices to the political environment in the region. While Republicans remain in control of Tennessee and Georgia capitals, the new office holders are looking to put their own mark on education, workforce and healthcare.

* With unemployment hovering near the lowest level in a half century, employers are forced to be more creative and attentive to worker needs to recruit, retain and train their staffs.

* With more jobs and economic growth, the hospitality industry is growing and more people are looking for unique experiences in eating out and staying at boutique hotels.

* The growth of downtown Chattanooga is headed south along the redeveloping South Broad Street. New housing, commercial development and perhaps even a new stadium or two are in the offing for Chattanooga's Southside.