The grant demonstrates to companies coming here and also to venture capitalists that the city, state and [Hamilton] county support the types of jobs we're creating here.
A Chattanooga startup, which reportedly boasts the city's highest average base salary at $88,000 annually, on Monday was awarded $51,000 from a grant program for hiring new workers.
FreightWaves, a company that focuses on freight market data analytics and recently announced it has raised $39 million in venture capital funding to date, received the grant from the city's Industrial Development Board for hiring 51 workers within the past 18 months.
The business, which employs about 90 people, is the first recipient in the program since the initiative was re-crafted by the City Council last year, said Jermaine Freeman, the city's economic development officer.
Freeman said the effort is designed to bring innovation to the city and offers company's $1,000 for each employee hired.
"We don't necessarily look at financial need," he told the board at a meeting. "We don't want to pick winners and losers. It's a grant that allows the city to say 'We appreciate you being here.'"
Freeman said the $51,000 figure is "a very small gesture."
"It's the city appreciating it doing business here, operating here and not picking up and going to Atlanta or Nashville or Boston or the Bay Area," he said.
FreightWaves Chief Executive Craig Fuller cited a source involved with the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce that termed the business as having "the highest salary of any company in town."
He said the city will receive a high return on its investment due to the company's compensation level.
"The grant demonstrates to companies coming here and also to venture capitalists that the city, state and [Hamilton] county support the types of jobs we're creating here," Fuller said.
He said FreightWaves is putting $800,000 into the build-out of its new headquarters on the 400 block of Market Street.
"That part of downtown is not a distraught part of downtown, but it's one not seeing a lot of new businesses go into," Fuller said.
He said that lack of new businesses has impacted restaurants nearby because there's not a big lunchtime crowd.
"Us bringing potentially 200 to 300 jobs in the next two years, high-paying, hopefully should spur some development," the company CEO said.
Freeman said he expected that the board will see future grant requests in the near future, though those likely will be more in the $10,000 to $15,000 range.
The money for the innovation grants will come from another program aimed at growing small business as well as from funds generated by payment in lieu of tax agreements with other companies, Freeman said.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.