published Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Chattanooga among America’s ‘comeback cities’

Boats gather on the Chattanooga riverfront in preparation for a fireworks display during the 2009 Riverbend Festival.
Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Boats gather on the Chattanooga riverfront in preparation for a fireworks display during the 2009 Riverbend Festival. Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press
  • Chattanooga

  • Nashville

  • Orlando

  • Jacksonville, Fla.

  • Charlotte, N.C.

  • Flint, Mich.

  • Las Vegas

  • Phoenix

  • Portland, Ore.

  • Seattle

  • San Jose, Calif.

Source: The Kiplinger Letter


  • From the employment peak of 248,700 jobs reached in February 2008, metro Chattanooga lost a net 22,900 jobs by the end of 2009.

  • From February 2010 to February 2011, Chattanooga has added 4,300 jobs

  • Kiplinger forecasts employment will grow in metro Chattanooga this year by 3.4 percent, or by more than 7,800 jobs. The U.S. job growth rate is projected to be only 1.3 percent

  • Unemployment in metro Chattanooga in February was 8.8 percent, or 0.7 percent below the comparable non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate for the U.S. as a whole.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Moody’s Analytics, Kiplinger Letter

After shedding nearly one of every 10 jobs during 2008 and 2009, Chattanooga appears to be on an economic rebound.

The Kiplinger Letter, a weekly financial publication, has named Chattanooga as one of its “Comeback Cities for 2011.” The financial publication predicts Chattanooga should gain back more than one-third of the 20,800 jobs lost during the Great Recession.

Jerry Idaszak, associate editor for the Kiplinger Letter, said the job picture in metropolitan Chattanooga “will bounce up strongly this year” due to the addition of new Amazon distribution centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties and continued expansion of the Volkswagen auto plant and its suppliers.

In the past year alone, metro Chattanooga has added 4,300 jobs from the year-ago level, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Volkswagen has yet to reach its full operational staffing level, and we expect manufacturing to be a growth driver for jobs in Chattanooga,” Idaszak said Monday.

Amazon plans to hire more than 1,600 full-time and another 2,000 part-time employees this year, while VW and its suppliers are on pace to add at least another 1,000 workers to the 1,500 they already have hired in the past two years. In Bradley County, Wacker Chemical plans to hire at least 650 employees to staff its $1.5 billion polysilicon plant.


In its current edition, Kiplinger highlights 10 other metro areas like Chattanooga that lost a significant number of jobs during the recession and are rebounding faster than the rest of the nation during the recovery that technically began a year ago.

Among the 11 cites on the list, Chattanooga tied with Portland, Ore., as the metro areas likely to experience the fastest job growth during 2011.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, a former business recruitment specialist and city planner, said Chattanooga is on a list of cities that he and other Chattanoogans only dreamed about in the 1980s.

“Many of the cities on this comeback list such as Jacksonville, Charlotte, Orlando and Portland are cities we visited and studied 20 years ago and always wanted to be included with as progressive cities for the future,” Littlefield said.

But the Comeback Cities also includes some especially hard-hit cities with double-digit unemployment, including Flint, Mich., and Las Vegas.

“The cities that should rebound the most this year are quite different, but they all showed signs of faster growth in what is a much more sluggish recovery than usual following previous recessions,” said Alex Miron, an associate economist for Moody’s Analytics, which prepared the job projections included in the Kiplinger report.


The “Comeback City” recognition for Chattanooga comes just a couple of weeks after TV network CNBC gave Chattanooga the dubious distinction of being among “20 Cities You Don’t Want to Live In ... Yet.” That report focused upon the job losses Chattanooga and other cities suffered during 2008-2010 downturn, as well as the city’s crime rate, which is more than double the U.S. average.

Littlefield said such lists attract the attention of business prospects. The mayor expects the Kiplinger report to generate more interest among entrepreneurs and businesses looking to expand or relocate.

Tom Edd Wilson, president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said Chattanooga already is receiving more inquiries from businesses eager to expand.

“With 15 automotive suppliers moved into town, as well as all that is happening in our region from Volkswagen, Amazon and Wacker, you’ve got to believe that our outlook is very bright,” he said.

Wilson said the business prospects looking at Chattanooga “repeatedly tell me they are surprised about all that is going on and the appeal of this area” with its central location, attractive climate, lower costs and natural beauty.

“I think we’re an area that has been overlooked historically, but that is changing now,” he said.

Contact Dave Flessner at or 423-757-6340.

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Logical1 said...

Chattanooga will come back when it get's a handle on crime. Otherwise it'll be just another Detroit.

April 12, 2011 at 9:56 a.m.
Logical1 said...

Libertarians4Freedom, They still commit crimes in this city and that's everybody's problem. It's time for the good law abiding black community to take back their neighborhoods. High crime doesn't just effect an ethinic group it has an effect on everyone.

April 12, 2011 at 10:40 a.m.
BrainerdRebel said...

Chattanooga City Government has taxed the majority of law abiding, tax paying citizens to North Georgia or the surrounding counties. The school system is terrible, crime is out of control, storm water run off, sewer tax, double taxation, emission tax fraud, etc. Volkswagen paying 13 dollars an hour won't save Chatt. The government workers unions control the politicians. Littlefield was recalled and he won't leave.

April 12, 2011 at 11:06 a.m.
Leaf said...

Maybe it would be a better city without so many racists.

April 12, 2011 at 1:43 p.m.
Leaf said...

Oh, that makes your hatred OK then.

April 12, 2011 at 4:57 p.m.
twharr said...

Libertarian AKA Tea-Party Idiot-ologist, I guess there's no white on white crime. I could of sworn a white kid got blasted in the chest by another white kid in Mountain Shadows...I guess the white guy who killed the white officer (God bless his soul) should not be considered a white on white crime. True African American youth have commited lots of crimes within their communities, but so has whites yet is rarely televised. The problem is education and oppurtunity. These kids feel they have no oppurtunity so the result to the alternative which is selling drugs, robbing, and gang-banging. Employers in this town refuse to hire these kids due to what crime they commited when they were teens. Do you really think they can make a good living working in the fastfood industry? That's the only place that will hire them. There's so many variables on why this trend keeps continuing and I could go on and on and on, but...I gotta grab some lunch.

April 13, 2011 at 12:31 p.m.
Musicman375 said...

"Well Logical, blacks either bitch when you arrest a member of their community, yet when the cops stay away and the gangs takeover, blacks then complain that we're they're paying attention to them."

A self proclaimed black person created a post with a statement that almost matched this one exactly, but went further into detail about it, and it was okay. Yet, when a libertarian posts it, people like Leaf start up the accusations. Sad how that works out. If you're white, or are perceived as such like in this case, you cannot state facts for fear of being called a racist or bigot. That's just not fair if we want to fix the problem.

I had to go find the post I mentioned above before posting this comment, and luckily I found it: antilimit's post click here

The post was written by antilimit, March 22, 2011 at 1:51 p.m.

April 13, 2011 at 11:58 p.m.

Libertarians4Freedom said... "---Those two crimes are the exception, everyone knows that there's more crime among blacks than whites, that's why blacks move to white neighborhoods whenever they can"

Wooow. Tell that to the group of white guys who robbed my apt. And the other white guy who tried to rape me. And the others who sell meth in the trailer park. I guess those don't count?? Actually studies show white commit 2/3 of violent crimes so get your facts straight before you post an inexplicably bigotted and uninformed remark about a whole group of ppl.

There are just as many decent blacks as there are whites, just as there are bad apples in every group. But I guess as long as some blacks stay in the ghetto and kill each other, the happier and more lily white your world will be....

April 14, 2011 at 12:37 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

Once Mayor Littlefield's term ends and the current city council is voted out of office, then the city will be on a true comeback path.

April 14, 2011 at 10:03 p.m.
DoN2Much said...

i think the whole conversation of blacks killing blacks is very stupid as all race kills their own and then some at some point. who cares about who is doing it more, killing is killing... and if every black man carried around a gun i am sure there will be a lot of innocent people getting killed in this city all over speculation or "he looked like he was going to rob or harm me look" which is rediculous and for it to be said that we bitch or complain when cops stay away is ludicrous because i have never seen one person that i know cry about the police not being there, hell if anything they are too busy pulling us over because of the same way you are talking thinking 1 black person represents all black people and that is never the case. I am a very productive black citizen that grew up in the same black neighborhoods that some of this stuff is happening in and i have had my issues with some of those same bad type of idividuals but at the same time i cannot say all of the black people in that area are bad. like it was said in this post there are a lot of bad apples in every bunch so quit pointing fingers because dont get it twisted at some point in your life you very well may go thru the same problems when someone either black or white come knocking your door down and your family is in danger so dont think it can never come to your doorsteps regardless of color or who is doing it. if someone wants what they want from YOU then they will do whatever it takes to get it. i dont care what your color or nationality is. quit thinking cause your white or whatever and you dont live in a black community that satan cant come knocking at your door buddy... better wake up people and quit thinking that only certain people are targets for violence

April 15, 2011 at 4:18 p.m.
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