The 2023 Annual Report

The 2023 Annual Report highlights regional improvements post-pandemic. Staff are helping communities rebuild and start much-needed infrastructure projects.

They provided local planning assistance to 28 communities and supported older adults with home-delivered meals, transportation, and technology classes. Staff managed 160 projects with $75.6 million in grants, benefiting over 143,500 residents through broadband expansion, water and sewer repairs, and community development programs.

Economic Development saw industry expansions and new business growth, creating over 2,600 jobs and $1.2 billion in new investments. Workforce Development is building recovery-to-work ecosystems for future stability. Tourism is boosting outdoor engagement with a new field guide, boat launches, walking tours, and enhanced social media and marketing efforts.

The 2022 Annual Update Comprehensive Economic Development Survey:

The region’s population has reached 800,000 and is growing. Most communities see rising incomes and decreasing poverty rates. In the past five years, 29,115 jobs were added, with another 29,111 projected in the next five years. Increased job openings indicate economic confidence and an aging workforce, with over 257,000 people aged 55 or older nearing retirement. This opens opportunities for younger workers, though education in key fields like technology and healthcare needs improvement.

Efforts are underway, including Future Ready Institutes, expanded Community College campuses, and the Chattanooga Climbs 5-year plan. The opioid epidemic remains a critical issue, causing high overdose rates and straining healthcare and law enforcement resources, leaving many high-paying jobs unfilled.

The CEDS proposes bold transportation projects to improve connectivity, reduce congestion, and enhance safety, benefiting residents and industries.

ALICE in Tennessee:

This research provides a framework, language, and tools to understand the struggles of ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households, which cannot afford basic necessities. Partnering with United Ways, foundations, academic institutions, corporations, and state organizations, this initiative presents data to spark discussions, attract partners, and inform strategies for positive change.

Starting as a pilot in Morris County, New Jersey in 2009, this research expanded statewide in 2012 and now covers 21 states. United Ways in Tennessee join over 648 United Ways nationwide, working to understand and address ALICE's challenges.

United Ways, government agencies, nonprofits, and corporations can evaluate current initiatives and develop innovative approaches to give ALICE a voice and improve life for these households and the wider community.