Chattanooga area growth in the past year has been fueled by new and existing companies, and upcoming projects in the city's South Broad District and at The Bend on downtown's Westside will continue to drive the city forward, officials said Wednesday.
The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce helped in attracting $320 million of capital development by companies in the 12-month period, said Charles Wood, the business group's chief executive.
Wood, speaking at the chamber's online annual meeting, said the organization assisted in companies announcing the creation of 1,344 new jobs from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023.
"We're committed to sustaining the momentum," he said.
Wood, named chamber CEO earlier this year, said a key company attracted to Chattanooga was rapidly growing.
iFixit is expanding its global business with an East Coast service facility and warehouse. The company, which provides guides and advice for fixing everything from cameras and power tools to cars and trucks, said last year in an announcement it will add more than 200 jobs within the next five years in Chattanooga's Onion Bottom Station off East 12th Street, where it's investing $24.2 million.
Wood also cited the expansion by tire nylon manufacturer Kordsa, which took over part of the former DuPont plant in Hixson nearly a decade ago. Kordsa is investing $50 million to expand production at its factory.
Kordsa will add 200 more jobs and increase its capacity to convert its products into tire cord fabric, company officials said in a news release.
Also, the chamber helped Cleveland, Tennessee, economic developers land custom food manufacturer SK Food Group, which plans to create 840 jobs as it invests $205 million in a factory at Spring Branch Industrial Park off Interstate 75.
SK Food's planned 525,000-square-foot factory will be larger than the Arizona-based company's other three production sites combined, company officials said at a news conference.
Wood also mentioned the announcement by one of Chattanooga's oldest companies that's planning to grow its manufacturing footprint and bolster the size of its workforce as it brings back technology it has usually purchased overseas.
Steward Advanced Materials is looking to construct a new 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot building behind its existing 200,000-square-foot facilities a few blocks off Rossville Boulevard, company Chief Executive Tim Armstrong said in a phone interview. The $20 million expansion is expected to add up to 24 employees to Steward Advanced's existing workforce of about 50 Armstrong said.
Wood also talked about the city's business incubator at Cherokee Boulevard and Manufacturers Road, adding it saw a surge in new startup companies during the past year. Ninety-five percent of the incubator's manufacturing space was occupied, he said.
The incubator had an estimated $70 million economic impact for Hamilton County, Wood said.
Paul Leath, the chamber's new chair and Chattanooga Gas Co.'s director of regional operations, said in the meeting the business group this week named a new vice president for economic development. Adam Myers was the director of business development for the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council for the past nine years. He fills the post Wood occupied before his naming as CEO.
Looking ahead, proposed redevelopment in South Broad and The Bend will bring an "incredible opportunity and change to parts of the city that needed new life and energy," Leath said.
CHI Chattanooga market CEO Janelle Reilly, the chamber's immediate past chair, said she didn't think the business group would be looking for a new CEO earlier this year. But Christy Gillenwater left the post for a similar role with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
In addition, Simeon Baskerville, founder of Bushings Unlimited, was named the chamber's Ambassador of the Year.
The North Hamilton County Council was picked as Council of the Year.