For more than a dozen years under two mayors, Richard Beeland worked in a variety of communications and management roles at City Hall. Beeland said he was eager to make government more efficient and run better and ultimately determined he might be able to do more to accomplish that as an advocate outside of government, rather than staying in his job with the city.
So when the Homebuilders Association of Greater Chattanooga approached Beelend earlier this year about heading up the trade group, Beeland jumped at the chance.
"For some of the changes I felt were needed to improve government, I felt I would be a better advocate outside of city government, rather than within it," he says.
With 475 organization members, the 73-year-old Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga represents an industry that generates local income of $192 million a year, supports more than 2,800 jobs and generates $26.5 million in annual taxes and fees for local government.
"There's a delicate relationship between the developer and the regulator and there are always opportunities for the homebuilders to be at the table when local government is talking about those regulations that affect their industry and that is what I am here to do," says Beeland, the 58-year-old executive officer for the homebuilders group. "As homebuilders, we want to be able to build affordable housing for our community, but a lot of times the regulations that are in place can affect that."
Homebuilders and commercial builders and developers complained that the city didn't involve them in this year's decision to boost water quality fees to the highest rates in Tennessee or consider how best to spend the additional revenues generated by those increases. HBAGC is eager for the city to involve developers and builders more in the future.
A native of Newton, Mississippi, Richard Beeland graduated from Mississippi State University, where he met his wife, Holley. She ultimately brought Richard to Chattanooga from Mississippi in 2002, when she moved along with other Mississippi State University staff to the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga when the SIM Center opened here.
Beeland, who had managed cable TV systems and news programming in Mississippi and Alabama for North Land Cable Television, picked up both an undergraduate degree in political science and a master's degree in public policy before going to work for the city of Chattanooga under then-Mayor Ron Littlefield. For the next 12 years, Beeland worked a variety of city hall jobs, from mayoral spokesman, to personnel director, the chief administrative officer at the Public Library and, most recently, deputy administrator of economic and community development until he accepted his new role at the Home Builders Association in April.
Beeland says he thinks he can bring both his City Hall knowledge and his listening and communications experience to his advocacy for home building. The new HBAGC head said the American dream of home ownership remains alive and homebuilders play a key role in fulfilling that dream and shaping Chattanooga's built environment.
"Our voices need to be heard," he says.