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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, July 20, 2018

Briefs: Mueller Water to expand, add 96 jobs over three years




Mueller Water Products will expand its operations in Chattanooga and create 96 jobs during the next three years.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Mueller officials announced the expansion.

“I’d like to thank Mueller Water Products for its decision to create jobs and invest further in its operations in Chattanooga,” Rolfe says. “This expansion speaks volumes to our skilled workforce, Tennessee’s favorable environment for manufacturing companies and the strong partnership among the State, Tennessee Valley Authority and local officials. I’m encouraged by the creation of nearly 100 quality jobs in Chattanooga and look forward to the continued impact Mueller Water Products will have for the citizens of Southeast Tennessee.”

Mueller will invest in its domestic manufacturing capabilities and introduce additive manufacturing technologies to its foundries. The Chattanooga facility expansion is driven by growing demand for water infrastructure products among municipalities and will support the expected future demand as America rebuilds its aging infrastructure.

“This is an exciting time for our company and we are very pleased to bring more job opportunities to the Chattanooga community,” says Scott Hall, president and CEO of Mueller. “The expansion of our Chattanooga facility will allow us to address the growing demand for U.S. manufactured water infrastructure products while also investing in growing cities like Chattanooga.”

The company plans to begin hiring between January and March 2019. It currently employs 604 Tennesseans and has additional locations in Cleveland and Chattanooga’s Innovation District.

“Companies like Mueller Water Products are driving Chattanooga’s wage growth and low unemployment,” Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke says.

 “Mueller Water Products is a longstanding company locally with a history of creating solid jobs for Hamilton County residents,” Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger says. “I congratulate the company on its latest expansion and wish it every success for the future.”

Mayor to kick off workforce project

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke will launch Workforce Outreach on Monday, July 23.

A new public engagement campaign, Workforce Outreach will work in a variety of ways to connect Chattanoogans in some of the city’s most disinvested neighborhoods with opportunities to complete their education, enhance their skills, and find new or better jobs.

 “Chattanooga’s economy is performing well, but that means we need to be making even more significant investments in reaching out and pulling people up,” Mayor Berke says. “A strong workforce is directly linked to so many other positive outcomes in our city. A higher wage allows people repair their homes, save for their children’s education, or simply enjoy more of what our city has to offer.

“Workforce Outreach is about literally meeting people where they live so we can make sure they know about the many things that local government and our partners can be doing to help them boost their wages, grow their skills, and find more stable and rewarding jobs.”

Over the course of the next 50 weeks, Workforce Outreach staff intends to connect at least 3,500 people to jobs, skills training, or education. Door-to-door canvassing, phone calls to constituents, direct mail, and dropboxes in key places in each neighborhood are among the communication methods that will be deployed as part of the campaign.

The Workforce Outreach kickoff will be held Monday, noon-1:30 p.m. at Southside Community Park and Alton Park neighborhood. The event will be followed by an afternoon of door-to-door canvassing in the Alton Park neighborhood by Mayor Berke, City Councilman Erskine Oglesby, Jr. and ECD staff.

The project will be administered by the city’s new Office of Workforce Development within the city’s Department of Economic & Community Development.

The Office of Workforce Development is led by Kent Burnes, a business and workforce development consultant with more than 28 years of experience. Burnes joined the City of Chattanooga in early 2018.

“Often what we find when we are working with unemployed or underemployed people is that a communication gap exists within our community,” Burnes says. “People have skills but aren’t aware that companies are hiring. Employers want workers, but don’t know where to look for them. Workforce Outreach wants to bridge those gaps and help everyone grow together.”

“It’s no secret that while some parts of Chattanooga are doing great, some areas of our city continue to struggle with unemployment, disinvestment, and chronic poverty,” Councilman Oglesby says. “We owe it to ourselves and future generations of Chattanoogans to use our current economic momentum to pull everyone forward so that everyone can benefit from a great job at a good wage.”

Cheesecake Factory headed to Hamilton Place

CBL Properties has announced The Cheesecake Factory is coming to Hamilton Place in Chattanooga, as the first key component of the Sears redevelopment project.

Construction on The Cheesecake Factory is underway with an anticipated grand opening in late 2018.

“The Cheesecake Factory is one of the most successful and highly sought-after restaurants in the country. We are thrilled to be able to bring this dining experience to the Chattanooga market later this year,” says Stephen Lebovitz, chief executive officer, CBL Properties.

“The Cheesecake Factory is the first piece of our comprehensive redevelopment plan for the Sears building and surrounding area at Hamilton Place, and we look forward to making additional announcements in the coming months.”

The Cheesecake Factory will locate on a new parcel created on the I-75 side of the Sears parking lot. CBL is working to solidify redevelopment plans for the Sears store, which continues to operate at Hamilton Place.

Headquartered in Chattanooga, CBL Properties owns and manages a national portfolio of market-dominant properties located in growing communities. CBL’s portfolio is comprised of 117 properties totaling 73.4 million square feet across 26 states, including 75 high-quality enclosed, outlet and open-air retail centers and 11 properties managed for third parties. CBL continuously strengthens its company and portfolio through active management, aggressive leasing and profitable reinvestment in its properties. For more information, visit cblproperties.com.

Chattanooga’s EPB honored by state

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has recognized the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga with a Governor’s Environmental Stewardship award.

“These awards highlight what’s being done in Tennessee to preserve our natural resources, protect public health and the environment, and enhance our quality of life,” says Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. “I applaud all of the 2018 winners for their continued work to make their respective industries and passions more sustainable.”

The EPB was named a Pursuit of Excellence Winner.

In 2017, EPB began piloting an environmental stewardship dashboard that shows how much energy and water is being consumed by each building by month. The company also tracks its own performance of recycling field metals, fiber equipment, and vegetation waste, as well as smart grid efficiency savings and employee transportation methods.

Since 2016, EPB has reduced emissions by 3,340 tons through SmartGrid efficiencies, 1,797 tons by recycling field metals, and 2,869 tons of vegetation repurposing by grinding up wood chips and making it available to customers for free.

TFWC brings commission to Chattanooga

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission held its July meeting in Chattanooga, the first time the agency has visited the city since 2015.

Among the agenda items was a report on a chronic wasting disease plan, a report on a long-range deer strategic plan, and a reservoir fisheries habitat update.

Greg Wathen, of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency director’s office, gave a report to the commission on the progress of the TWRA chronic wasting disease Response Plan draft. The plan is divided into four areas.

It includes the agency’s operation goals of preventing the introduction of CWD into Tennessee. A risk assessment system that will maximize early detection of the disease and minimize its impact in the event a positive CWD deer or elk is detected. The final step is to develop an extensive communications strategy to address all aspects of outreach on CWD. The next CWD plan update is scheduled to be made in two months to the commission at its September meeting.

CWD has been detected in Tennessee’s neighboring states of Virginia, Missouri, Arkansas and most recently, Mississippi. CWD is a fatal, highly-contagious disease, which affects the brain and nervous system of cervids such as deer, elk and moose.

TWRA deer program leader, James Kelly, gave a progress update on the deer strategic plan. Focus group meetings and interviews with commissioners were held in June. A draft plan will be available this fall with a public comment period to follow.

Jason Henengar, assistant Fisheries Division chief, presented a reservoir habitat update. He highlighted techniques used by TWRA over the past 40 years to manage reservoir fisheries statewide. He referenced current projects including bank stabilization work that is underway on Boone Reservoir as well as fish attractors on Old Hickory Reservoir.

The TFWC will hold its next meeting Aug. 23-24 in Nashville at the TWRA Region II Building.