The city's chief economic development group Thursday will unveil a $9.25 million, four-year growth plan that aims for the creation of more than 15,000 jobs.

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce plan also calls for a first-ever effort to craft a countywide, 35- to 50-year "road map to sustainable growth."

"It will prevent the city from having the same problems as Atlanta," said Tom Edd Wilson, the Chamber's chief executive. "With everything happening, Volkswagen and all, we see a need for a more comprehensive planning process."


Chamber's 2011-2015 plan

* Job creation - 15,121

* Capital investment - $500 million

* New payroll - $427 million

Source: Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce


Mid-2007 to October 2010

* Jobs created - 12,953; goal - 15,573*

* Area capital investment - $1.5 billion; goal - $500 million

* New income - $545 million; goal - $526 million

Source: Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

* Goal is though mid-2011; figures are for Hamilton County

The Chamber's new job growth initiative, dubbed "Chattanooga Can Do: Building Tomorrow Today," aims to build on VW's $1 billion auto assembly plant and Alstom's $300 million turbine production facility.

Not overlooked: Small Business

J.Ed. Marston, the Chamber's vice president of marketing, said officials believe job growth in the power generation sector may surpass that of automotive.

"Long term, that is as important (as the auto segment) if not a more important source of new jobs," he said, also including alternative energy development.

The Chamber plan that starts in mid-2011 also will stress small business growth and startups and include a restructuring of the city's small-business incubator.

In addition, the jobs plan will increase Chamber funding and focus on retaining and expanding existing industry.

Additionally, raising the bar on the area's work force and bolstering education are key parts of the plan, according to the business group. It cites a continued implementation of the Principal Leadership Academy, designed to give school officials practical knowledge.

Long-term growth

But the most novel part of the Chamber's new plan is its sustainable growth initiative, officials said.

Wilson said that while it's only earmarking $185,000 for the effort, it plans to raise over $1 million from the private sector.

The program wouldn't just deal with long-term land use planning, but with issues such as population density, growth patterns and future road infrastructure and how to finance it, officials said.

"Very few cities have done anything this comprehensive," Wilson said.

He cited Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., which has undergone a lot of growth in the recruitment of a BMW production plant that is expected soon to employ 7,500 people and make it the largest auto factory in the United States.

"They didn't have any idea it would happen to it as it has," Wilson said. "We've got to get ready for it."

He said a two-year plan doesn't suffice.

Half a century plan?

"We need sound business principles applied to growth," Wilson said. He said a top-flight national planning group would be hired to help develop the 35- to 50-year blueprint.

Plans are to raise most of the $9.25 million from the private sector, with city and Hamilton County governments each kicking in $450,000 a year for a total of $3.6 million, Chamber officials said.

Bob Johnson, who's directing the Chamber's campaign to raise money to support the plan, said there was concern it would be difficult to raise money given the tough economy.

The business group made calls on about 75 businesses, and Johnson said just a handful of companies indicated they couldn't give as much as they had for the Chamber's existing job-growth plan.

The Chamber is expected to reveal Thursday how much was raised so far.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.