Research looks for why Black residents are leaving Chattanooga

Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Marchers walk past the AT&T building on M.L. King Boulevard during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The march was held in conjunction with a variety of other Martin Luther King Jr. Day events held throughout the day.

The decrease in Black residents in Chattanooga and Hamilton County over the past decade is the result of choices made by politicians and civic elites in the area, according to a presentation Sunday by Kenneth Chilton, associate professor of public administration at Tennessee State University.

In the 21st century, Chattanooga was successful in branding itself as a destination for tourists, as well as a landing spot for young entrepreneurs and a certain demographic, Chilton said.

"Branding, creating a brand and then marketing that nationwide, Chattanooga has done an excellent job of getting their story out to The New York Times, to NPR, to tech industry people, doing tourism and things like that," Chilton said. "And part of that was to reverse white flight, to bring back higher-paying jobs, higher-paying earners back to our downtowns, back to our inner-urban neighborhoods."