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Chattanooga Climbs – Velocity 2040

Chattanooga Climbs


Advancing Economic and Talent Initiatives

What is Economic Development?

Economic development is a process of investing in a region to improve its economic prosperity. Economic development traditionally includes:

  • Helping local businesses expand,
  • Attracting new businesses into the region and
  • Fostering the growth of new businesses.

Today’s economic development efforts also include initiatives that make our community an overall better place for businesses and residents. This can cover topics such as:

  • Improving quality of life amenities,
  • Establishing education and workforce programs,
  • Building infrastructure,
  • Addressing social equity and
  • Improving the local business climate.

The overarching goal of today’s economic development is to create a place where residents have ample opportunities to build their careers and improve the standard of living for themselves and their families.

Why is Economic Development Important?

To advance our economy and raise the standard of living in our community. Economic development is important to our community because it improves the health of the economy and well-being of its residents, making Chattanooga and Hamilton County more resilient – especially in times of hardship.

Who Leads Economic Development?

Economic development is usually led by several types of organizations in a community. Sometimes communities have a dedicated economic development organization (EDO), sometimes the city or county government has an economic development or community development department and sometimes a chamber of commerce includes economic development among its activities.

Other organizations that might be involved include:

  • Workforce development and education institutions,
  • Local governments,
  • State governments,
  • Utility companies,
  • Community foundations and
  • Convention and visitors bureaus.

Ultimately, economic development requires aligned partnerships throughout a community. Success depends on everyone in a region working together to establish a shared vision and accomplish specific goals. Even individuals that have nothing to do with an EDO can affect change by being advocates for initiatives and volunteering to support programs.

About Our Process

The process of developing a strategy is as important as the final product. Chattanooga Climbs will serve all residents and businesses in Chattanooga and Hamilton County, and your voices will be integral to identifying priorities and developing effective strategies.

To that end, we began with Velocity2040, a community-visioning process that engaged participation from across our community diverse in age, race, employment status and income level. The results of this process were used to shape our goals for what it will be like to live in our community in 2040.


After creating our common vision for the future, we made a plan for action. The Velocity2040 Report outlines goals and tactics to help us collectively move forward in the coming years. One of the major goals of the Velocity2040 vision, selected by participants, is to ensure that every resident of Chattanooga and Hamilton County has the opportunity to thrive economically. The Chattanooga Chamber launched Chattanooga Climbs economic development strategy to help us achieve this goal.


During the coming months, Chattanooga Climbs will facilitate the development of our strategic action plan – speaking with stakeholders from across the city and county, convening focus groups on specific topics, surveying the community and meeting with a steering committee composed of 65 individuals representing diverse groups from across Hamilton County.

By combining your input with analysis of economic and demographic trends, Chattanooga Climbs will develop a comprehensive assessment of Chattanooga and Hamilton County’s position – identifying our strengths and assets but also our challenges and needs. This assessment will help prioritize future actions, target opportunities for growth and create an implementation plan that keeps us moving forward in alignment.

Chattanooga Climbs Strategy Timeline

Why This Project?

Chattanooga Climbs is a true partnership growing out of the work done during the Velocity2040 community visioning process. Like all initiatives resulting from the Velocity2040 vision, Chattanooga Climbs will develop its strategy based on priorities identified by residents within the community. The Velocity2040 community visioning survey drew participation, including 4,765 comments, from nearly 5,000 residents representing every facet of our community. Of those who shared age and race, about half were under age 49, and one in eight were under 30. African Americans made up 16 percent of participants – almost a mirror of the population composition of Hamilton County, where African Americans comprise 19.5% of the population.

Four percent of respondents were Hispanic, closely approximating the 5.7 percent Hispanic share of Hamilton County’s population. The survey was offered in Spanish and English. Volunteers assisted with in-person canvassing in specific areas to ensure participation and inclusion.
Participants fell across the income spectrum, and half work at least full time.
In addition, 91 community leaders donated 960 hours to shape the plan. Three Velocity2040 committees (steering, marketing and outreach) volunteered to make sure we reached as many people as possible.
All this effort combined makes up 2,194 hours, the equivalent of one person working full-time for over a year to envision a bold future for our children and grandchildren.

Why Now?

We stand at a unique moment in Chattanooga and Hamilton County’s history. Over the past 30 years, we have made bold, innovative investments in our home – cleaning our environment, revitalizing our core, pioneering Gigabit internet, attracting global employers and building pride in our community. But as our community changes, many residents feel left behind, and growth brings new challenges. At the same time, the global economy is changing. New technology and industries are shifting the economic landscape.

To ensure all residents of Chattanooga are thriving in 2040, we must take an honest look at ourselves – ours strengths and our challenges – and make investments in ourselves today to guarantee a brighter future.