published Saturday, November 10th, 2012

Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association to host environmental summit

In this file photo, Tim Spires, president of the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association, stands outside NA Industries.
In this file photo, Tim Spires, president of the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association, stands outside NA Industries.

IF YOU GO

What: Environmental Summit hosted by Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association

When: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Chattanooga Convention Center, 1150 Carter St.

Cost: $150 for the public, $100 for Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association members.

Source: Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association

Chattanooga manufacturing jobs

46,100 in January 1990

44,100 in January 2000

34,900 in January 2005

27,300 in January 2010

33,100 in September 2012

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Chattanooga has been called an environmental city, even in a time when some local leaders thought using the words "environment" and "sustainability" would drive away manufacturing.

But in the past three years, the city that cleaned up its air and is working on cleaning up its water has added 5,800 manufacturing jobs, beginning the reversal of a decades-long decline.

To help manufacturers -- especially new and small ones -- navigate the terrain of complex environmental issues and rules, the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association plans an Environmental Summit on Wednesday -- a full day's conference to discuss new stormwater concerns, regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, new air-quality questions and the sometimes-hidden values of beneficial reuse and sustainability.

"Manufacturers want to do the right thing," said Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association President Tim Spires. "We deal with environmental issues every day in business. This is something manufacturers can take the lead on."

On the agenda are sessions about rethinking stormwater runoff, tightening sewer discharges, brownfield reclamations, zero landfilling, public right-to-know changes, coping with regulatory audits and handling public relations for environmental issues.

The morning keynote speaker is Robert Martineau, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The luncheon speaker is Emma Williams, who is charged with sustainability and corporate communications at Shaw Industries.

Already more than 70 people have signed up to attend.

Conference organizer Jim Robbins said the summit will offer 20 breakout sessions in four time slots throughout the day.

"The rules are getting tougher," Robbins said. "This will tell people what to expect and how to prepare for it."

TDEC spokeswoman Meg Lockhart said Martineau will give the group a broad overview of how state regulators are working to fulfill the agency's mission in a time of limited fiscal resources at both the federal and state levels.

He will also discuss some key initiatives TDEC is working on to support the department's goals, she said.

about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

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