New commissioner for TN economic & community development makes stop in Chattanooga
Stuart McWhorter applauds what Tennessee has, but listens to county executives on how to make things better
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – The new commissioner for the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, Stuart McWhorter, is on a barnstorming tour of the state.
Town hall meetings in all the biggest cities to both tell everyone what’s coming, and learn what he may need to know.
McWhorter is only 37 days into his new position as the commissioner of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.
He talks in these town halls about Tennessee’s commitment to improving the state’s economy, but also to listen.
County executives from Sequatchie County were present, as well as a representative from the Partnerships in Industry and Education Center in Cleveland.
McWhorter says while Chattanooga is among the state leaders in providing a solid workforce, more can be done.
“We need to make sure that we can convene those that are working in workforce development so that we can try to figure out best how to address the challenges that are ahead and exist now, and what might be ahead for our employers, you know, whether it’s locally or across the state.”
One of the biggest local challenges for employers is the traffic at the Ridge Cut and the split of Interstates 24 and 75.
McWhorter says the state is working on a plan to ease that burden.
“One of the best benefits or one of the best assets Chattanooga has is its location. and the fact that when companies want to locate here, they do it for a variety of reasons. One of which is the fact that you have interstate access. You can get anywhere, pretty much, in the country from here. And that’s a good thing. My assumption is that there is a plan to address those things because it’s a significant component to, not only economic development, but, really, just the livability this particular part of the state.”
McWhorter also touched on the Lookouts Stadium project, now that it’s been approved by the city and county. He says anything that can bring permanent jobs and a real sense of community is a win-win.
“It’s exciting, particularly if the county and the city embraces, not only this project, but other types of sports programs to bring people together. Hey, if it’s a great thing for the city, then, you know…, that would be a great thing for the state of Tennessee.”
McWhorter is making the rounds throughout the state, but he told me that Chattanooga holds a special place in his heart because he has family here.
As for his next order of business? Bringing back the ideas he heard on his statewide tour back to the governor and begin the planning for what he hopes is an economic boon in the coming years.