The City of Chattanooga was also named a finalist for a federal implementation grant ranging from $20-$50 million in funding.

The City of Chattanooga has been awarded a $500,000 strategy development planning grant by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) with the purpose of analyzing and developing strategies around improving workforce outcomes in underserved neighborhoods. In partnership with Hamilton County, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Chattanooga 2.0, the Benwood Foundation, and the Bethlehem Center, Chattanooga is one of 24 cities awarded the grant and is one of 22 finalists for the Recompete Implementation Grant, worth up to $50 million worth of funding. 

Using this grant, the City of Chattanooga will analyze the root causes of systemic barriers to quality economic and workforce opportunities in key neighborhoods in South Chattanooga and East Lake. As part of the federal Recompete Pilot Program, the City of Chattanooga will work with key partners in developing strategies to address barriers including access to childcare, transportation, and access to workforce training and education programs.

“The heart of the One Chattanooga Plan is about this very idea: there are communities in this city that have never had the same access to resources and opportunities that enable success as in other areas just miles away,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly. “This is not just another study – this powerful federal grant will fund the creation of an organized group of subject matter experts to help us identify and overcome barriers holding historically disadvantaged Chattanoogans back from reaching their full potential.”

The neighborhoods targeted for benefit in this grant have been identified as “persistent poverty tracts” by the U.S. Census due to consistently high rates of poverty. With a median household income of about $10,000 less per year than the median household income of the entirety of the City of Chattanooga, the data supports that residents of these neighborhoods are not able to access jobs that support a living wage.

Using the Recompete Strategy Development Grant, the City plans to create an action group of workforce and economic development experts to generate policy and programmatic tools to solve the problems that hold residents in the South Chattanooga and East Lake neighborhoods back from accessing quality, high-paying jobs with a goal of closing the prime-age employment gap by addressing the key inhibiting factors collectively.

“Workforce development is fundamental to building stable, resilient and thriving communities,” said Quentin Lawrence, Director of Workforce Development Strategy. “If we become one of as many as eight cities granted the implementation grant as part of this program, we can create programming, implement policy changes, and develop best practices that will have a significant impact on the quality of life for our neighbors who are in desperate need of these resources.”

More on The Kelly Administration’s efforts to catalyze economic vitality for Black and Brown Chattanoogans:

Under the direction of the goals and initiatives outlined in the One Chattanooga Plan, Mayor Tim Kelly believes the tenet of catalyzing economic vitality in black and brown communities is critical to creating a powerful and dynamic regional economy and growing generational wealth within the city. 

The City of Chattanooga is actively engaged in the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Great Jobs Challenge, a peer-learning cohort program focused on accelerating city efforts to design, develop, and launch a workforce initiative to build pathways for underrepresented groups to access high-quality job opportunities.