Driving Our Economy Forward: Chattanooga Chamber Connects Employers with Students

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce not only helps boost the economy in the Tennessee Valley, but it also helps connect students with employers before they even graduate.

The Chattanooga Chamber talked to News 12 about how they’re driving our economy forward.

“The youth that are in our school system, that is our future,” said Charles Wood, interim CEO. “So we talk about planting seeds right, so the kids that are in those schools today, they’re our future workforce. They’re future leaders. So I think the first thing we need to make sure we’re doing is that we don’t let them down.”

Wood says the chamber is passionate about education.

“We’re seeing really a collaborative effort in the business community to make sure that they’re staying connected with the schools,” Wood said. “We’re working right now on a number of partnerships where companies are doing what’s called work, work-based learning, so they’re bringing high school students into their facilities. So into their offices, into their manufacturing facilities, giving them real world experience while they’re still in high school.”

One of those companies is Legacybox.

“Legacybox is one of the biggest companies in the world digitizing old home movies, photos, film,” said Nick Macco, co-founder of Legacybox. “This was a really good opportunity where we could take students, and provide them work-based learning.”

“We’ve got a great partner in Legacybox that’s doing this over in the Highland Park neighborhood,” Wood said. “Gestamp is doing this out in Enterprise South. And actually Komatsu, as well, has a small apprenticeship program, so there are a number of companies that really have partnered with the school district, and we really hope to see a lot more of that.”

Wood says collaborating with schools is key.

“We’ve got a lot of change,” Wood said. “Certainly I know there’s been stories, you know, with Howard, and some of the demographics that have shifted there. I think there’s significant opportunity that we see with partnerships with some of the other schools.”

He says those schools are ecosystems for the community.

“They’re building future leaders,” Wood said. “I think making sure that we’re not forgetting that. That we’re continually kind of investing and committing to those students, that we’re going to create opportunity for them. That’s the most important thing we can do as a community.”

Categories: Driving Our Economy Forward, Featured, Jobs & Economy, Local News