For me, one of the best days of last year was traveling to Germany to meet with Volkswagen executives who were preparing to announce their decision to build another line in my hometown. I knew it would create thousands of direct and supplier jobs, but I have also witnessed the increased opportunity, self-esteem, and quality of life that come from those new positions. And while we all love VW, they weren’t the only economic success story of last year. Coca Cola, Amazon, Convergys -- in 2014, internationally-known companies chose to make Chattanooga their home or to grow here.
We know that not every expansion grabs the front page. There are small companies across our city who are developing innovative ideas, trying to outwork the competition, and building successful new businesses in Chattanooga. We are trying to add fuel to this fire through our Growing Small Businesses initiative, as well as a focus to expand our entrepreneurial sector and startups like BellHops, Wafflez Factory, and many others that are putting more Chattanoogans to work.
Overall, we added 3,429 new jobs this year. Our unemployment rate is down a full point below a year ago at this time. I am incredibly appreciative of our ECD employees, and our community and government partners who are helping to bring more jobs to Chattanooga.
Thousands of Chattanoogans lives changed for the better in 2014, but there is more work to do. At City Hall, I will continue working to create the conditions that bring living wage jobs here and expand our middle class, but I need your help in this effort. We need a strong workforce - so I need you to help our young people be successful. We need more employers who are considering Chattanooga - so I need you, our best spokespeople, to help promote what you love about our great City. If you have a great Chattanooga story from 2014 you want to share, email me, message me on Facebook or twitter, or tweet with the hashtag #CHA2014.
As soon as we turn out the last light on 2014, let’s roll up our sleeves in the new year and get back to work.
This afternoon, the Chattanooga Hamilton County Family Justice Center (FJC) formalized a new partnership with Southern Adventist University (SAU) School of Social Work to provide research and technical assistance to both the FJC and the Chattanooga Police Department. The partnership will focus on projects related to the development of a Victim Assistance Program and a pilot testing for Lethality Assessment protocol beginning in January, 2015
Through this partnership, Southern Adventist University will also provide ongoing research support to test evidence-based interdisciplinary practices with the FJC and community partners.
"Southern Adventist is a leader in social work research and we are excited to partner with them,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “Our Family Justice Center will ensure one centralized location where a diverse group of partners provide victims with a wide range of services. These strong partnerships and convenient access to services will be crucial to breaking the cycle of domestic violence in our area."
When the FJC opens, a student learning clinic managed by SAU will provide free social services/counseling services to clients, families, and groups. In addition, an extensive interdisciplinary internship program will be developed to prepare future professionals for working in law enforcement, social services, healthcare, and city government.
“There is no doubt the expertise SAU brings to the table will strengthen the work of our Family Justice Center,” said FJC Executive Director, Dr. Valerie Radu. “By ensuring we use best practices, this partnership will help the FJC and our partners provide the most effective community services and resources.”
In the summer of 2013, the City of Chattanooga received a 3 year grant to research a Family Justice Center to serve the area. An advisory committee conducted research and held several public forums throughout the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014. In August of 2014, the City hired Dr. Valerie Radu as Executive Director.
If you or someone you know is suffering from family violence, please call the LOCAL Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault CRISIS HOTLINE at 423-755-2700. Help is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and it’s completely confidential.
Chattanooga’s local initiative to end chronic veteran’s homelessness has been selected to participate in a national campaign called Zero: 2016. Campaign organizer, Community Solutions, said it would work closely with the Chattanooga community to end chronic veteran homelessness by the end of 2016. Mayor Andy Berke announced the collaboration this morning during a Veteran’s Day Program at Washington Alternative School.
"We must take care of the men and women who have fought so courageously for our freedom,” said Mayor Berke. “Through strong collaboration between our task force and various community partners, such as the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition, Chattanooga Housing Authority, and our local Veterans Affairs Medical Center, we will utilize Community Solutions as a resource to ensure there will no longer be veterans living on the streets of Chattanooga.”
After a competitive application process, Chattanooga was selected for Zero: 2016 along with 68 other U.S. communities. Zero: 2016 is a follow up to Community Solutions’ 100,000 Homes Campaign, which resulted in the housing of 105,000 chronically homeless Americans in less than four years.
The 69 communities selected for Zero: 2016 represent 31 different states and the District of Columbia. Among them are 50 communities who also participated in the 100,000 Homes Campaign and 19 new communities. Combined, the group represents the joint, public commitment of 234 housing authorities, local government entities, non-profit organizations, and community agencies.
Mayor Berke publicly pledged to end chronic veteran homelessness in Chattanooga on April 21, during his first State of the City address. The next day, the mayor signed an executive order establishing a community task force to eradicate chronic veteran homelessness. The task force is co-chaired by City Council Chairman Chip Henderson and Donna Maddox, executive director of Johnson Mental Health.
From Oct. 13-15, the city of Chattanooga partnered with local agencies and community members to register and survey Chattanooga’s homeless veterans in an event called Registry Week. The canvassing effort surveyed 91 individuals living on the streets of Chattanooga; 15 of those individuals were identified as veterans.
Building upon the findings of October’s Registry Week, Zero: 2016 will launch in Chattanooga in January of 2015 by participating in Chattanooga’s annual “Point-In-Time Count,” an event that aims to register and survey local homeless individuals in one night.
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