Staff file photo / A mechanical engineer and roboticist at Branch Technology prepares to use company's giant 3D printer that he designed and built in this file photo. Branch Technology has combined industrial robotics and 3D printing to manufacture structural components used in high-end architecture.

What's Chattanooga already great at and how can it improve?

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's new economic and talent development plan focuses on seeing more growth in existing industries such as automotive and specialty food while targeting future sectors such as biomedical/health care and 3D printing.

"How can we build more prosperity for our people?" Christy Gillenwater, the Chamber's president and chief executive officer, asked recently in a presentation about the new plan.

The business group's five-year Chattanooga Climbs strategy identified growing such advanced manufacturing sectors in which the city already boasts a strong presence such as automotive, machinery manufacturing, outdoor products and specialty food.

Also, the initiative eyes a similar effort in professional and support services in areas such creative media, engineering services, freight service and wooing more back office jobs.

Additionally, Chattanooga Climbs seeks future investment in developing sectors such as 3D printing, biomedical/health care, clean technology, industrial design and robotics, and smart city technology.


Advanced manufacturing

* Automotive

* Machinery manufacturing

* Outdoor products

* Specialty Food

Professional/support services

* Back office

* Creative media

* Engineering services

* Freight services

Future technology

* Additives and 3D printing

* Biomedical/health care

* Clean technology

* Industrial design and robotics

* Smart city technology

Source: Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

"Those targeted industries will require substantial investment on the part of the community," said Charles Wood, the Chamber's vice president for economic development.

One example is the creation of a health sciences center at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, he said.

"If we don't invest in ourselves in that way, we're likely not going to be terribly successful," Wood said.

He mentioned how the city and Hamilton County invested millions of dollars to create Enterprise South industrial park out of a former U.S. Army ammunition plant.

"Does Volkswagen show up here if you don't make an investment in Enterprise South?" Wood asked.

Gillenwater said Chattanooga Climbs has "a bold goal" of capturing $1 billion in capital investment over the next five years.

But, she added, that within that figure are goals in the targeted industry sectors.

"We have a series of metrics over the next five years," Gillenwater said about the new plan.

Wood said every one of the future investment sectors the plan targets involves a talent pipeline.

"Where can we get talent? Where can we recruit talent?" Wood asked.

In addition, some of the sectors will require help from the state, he said. He cited a health science center at UTC, noting the city will rely on its legislative delegation to help secure funding.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.