Workforce Working Group

Began March  2018

One of the main functions of the Office of Workforce Development is our role as a connection point between all the entities in the city working on workforce development projects, programs, and strategies. When our office was developed, many of the groups working on this initiative did not have a good way to communicate, keep each other updated on their progress, or collaborate. It became a priority of the Mayor’s Office to get these groups talking so we could serve Chattanooga residents to the best of our ability.

The Workforce Working Group began meeting regularly as a project of the Office of Workforce Development in March 2018. These meetings happen once a month, and representatives from the City of Chattanooga, local nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations, labor unions, and area employers are all present. In addition to updating each other on the projects each group is working on, the Workforce Working group brainstorms ways to create pipelines between employers and potential employees.

Workforce Outreach Initiative

Began July 2018

There are a variety of great job, education, and training opportunities for people who are un or underemployed in Chattanooga, but many of the people who need help the most don’t know about these opportunities. On July 1, 2018, our office will begin the Workforce Outreach program. This initiative will push targeted communication to the Chattanoogans living in communities with high unemployment and low household income through personal contact, a network of community stakeholders, direct mail, and online media. 

The backbone of this program features four door-to-door canvassers, called outreach workers, seeking to personally engage with Chattanooga residents. Each resident will be asked about their employment needs and an outreach worker will follow-up to connect each person to a workforce development partner such as an employer, the American Jobs Center, or the Educational Opportunities Center. After receiving services or support, each individual will get a second follow-up contact to ensure their need was met.

Ex-Offender to Business Program

Coming Soon 

Ex-Offenders often experience an incredibly difficult time trying to find a job when re-integrating into our communities. In order to help these community members, the WFD Office is implementing a program based off an initiative born in Raleigh, NC called “Inmates to Entrepreneurs.” The mission of Inmates to Entrepreneurs is to assist formerly incarcerated individuals in starting their own business and engaging in entrepreneurship by providing resources, mentorship, and hope. Over 90% of the participants start their own business and the remaining find meaningful employment. Additionally, among program participantsthere is a recidivism rate of below 3%.

Our program will replicate Inmates to Entrepreneurs by enrolling 10 ex-offenders into an 8-week program that will teach them about owning a business. By participating in the program, each participant will have access to 4 mentors who will teach a portion of the course. Once the course has been completed, participants will be eligible to receive a microloan of up to $1000 to assist in starting their own business. This will be a no default loan and can be paid back in small $5-$10 monthly increments.

This program also includes the creation of an Ex-Offenders to Business Chapter House. This location, currently TBD, will serve as a meeting location for the program participants and their mentors. Participants and mentors are expected to come together once a month following the completion of the course to discuss their progress, receive guidance on struggles they may be having, and to engage with a group of people that understands their current position. Ex-offenders who are not program participants but are interested in entrepreneurship are also encouraged and welcome to attend Chapter meetings.

Employer Roundtable

Coming Soon 

Similar to the Workforce Working Group, the Office of WFD wanted a way to bring stakeholders together to communicate. Previously, there have been several surveys to ask employers what the need in a workforce, but that was where the communication between the City and its employers stopped. The objective of the Employer Roundtable is to bring employers together, not to rehash their needs, but rather to inform them of the progress of the Workforce Working Group and to enlist their buy-in on a number of issues. For the WFWG to be successful, we need the partnership of employers in order to enhance: Apprenticeship opportunities at more businesses; participation in brainstorming ways we can solve transportation issues so they are not a barrier to employment or education; participation in campaigns to encourage residents to seek out workforce partners; participation in our ex-offender program; creation of and participation in other excellence programs.

The Employer Roundtable will meet once per quarter. At each meeting, someone from WFD will present on the work that the WFWG has been doing, as well as other WFD projects such as the Workforce Outreach program. To close these meetings, we plan on engaging employers in a discussion about workforce barriers they see their employees experiencing.

Excellency Certification Courses

Coming Soon 

Gaining a Certificate of Excellence in a skill can often be exactly what someone needs to land a job if they don’t have strong work history. Implementing Excellency Certification Courses through our local employers is an initiative of the Office of WFD that we believe will greatly assist Chattanooga residents to gain or enhance their working skills. The three Excellency Certification Courses currently being planned for include: Manufacturing Excellence, Hospitality Excellence, and Customer Service & Call Center Excellence. Ideally, these courses will be hosted by local employers in their respective career fields. Each of the courses will be 1-5 days in length; if they are more than 1 day in length they will be spread over the course of more than one week. The Office of WFD will fund the participation of 25 participants in each program. These 75 participants are guaranteed an interview with a local business related to their skills training course upon completion of the course.

Aspiring CNA Program

Coming Soon 

Getting CNA Certification is an excellent opportunity for Chattanooga residents with a high school diploma or equivalent who are interested in entering the healthcare field. CNAs in Tennessee take home an average salary of $11.70/hour, and receive hands on experience that can be applicable to continued education in any healthcare occupation. NHC Healthcare hosts a free 120 hour certification course; this course is three weeks long and classes are from 7:00am-3:00pm. Though the course is free, many low-income residents cannot participate because of the amount of working hours they would lose. Our office believes it is not only important to get residents into employment, but also to help lift residents up into higher paying positions.

The WFD Aspiring CNA Program will give a $750 stipend—equivalent to $250 per week—to 25 participants in order to cover their living expenses while enrolled in the CNA certification course. The program would also give each participant a $100 stipend to purchase uniforms and cover the cost of the certification test up to $110. Course graduates are guaranteed an interview with an NHC Healthcare employer upon passing the certification test. This is a great program for anyone qualified, but it will be specifically geared towards single mothers in our community.


The Office of Workforce Development is a new division of the Office of Economic & Community Development , created to specifically focus on Chattanooga’s workforce. In the Office of Workforce Development, we believe that Chattanooga residents who want to work should be put to work, and we’re dedicated to helping them break down the barriers that might be keeping them either from employment or from a higher paying job.



Text WORKFORCE to 97779 to get free job, training, and education assistance by text message

T: 123-456-789
F: 123-456-7890

© 2018 by the City of Chattanooga's Office of Workforce Development.