City of Chattanooga and UTC to Launch Manufacturer’s Excellence Program in September 2020

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (Sept. 1, 2020) -- The City of Chattanooga's Office of Workforce Development and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have partnered to offer Chattanooga residents a comprehensive training program in manufacturing.

Under the leadership of Mayor Andy Berke, the City is committed to enhancing an economic and workforce development environment where manufacturers can thrive and residents can connect to local economic upward mobility career opportunities in manufacturing.

The Manufacturer’s Excellence Program (MEP) was created by the Office of Workforce Development and the UTC Center for Professional Education within this vision for the Chattanooga community.

Participants of the program will be introduced to the foundations of manufacturing processes and production and an overview of the essential skills required to become a successful manufacturing team member. Upon completion of the MEP, participants will have direct opportunities for employment with major manufacturing corporations in the Chattanooga area.

The 30-hour training program will launch its first cohort on September 21-25, 2020 on UTC campus. With limited spots available, the Office of Workforce Development and UTC will host a second cohort in October 2020. Chattanooga area residents interested in participating in the Manufacturer’s Excellence Program are urged to contact the City Office of Workforce Development through their website at

Advisory Council

Began March 2018

One of the main functions of the Office of Workforce Development is our role as a nexus between entities in the city operating workforce development projects and programs. When our office was created, many of the groups working on this initiative did not have a good way to communicate, to update the community on their progress, or to collaborate for a higher level of effectiveness. 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 Advisory Council 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 Advisory Council brainstorms ways to create pipelines between employers and potential employees.

Workforce Outreach Initiative

Began July 2018

There are a great variety of jobs, education, and training opportunities for people who are unemployed or underemployed in Chattanooga, but many of the people who need help the most aren't informed of these opportunities. On July 1, 2018, our office began the Workforce Development Outreach program. This initiative pushes targeted communication to the Chattanoogans living in communities with high unemployment and low household income through personal contact, direct mail, and online media. 

The backbone of this program features four door-to-door canvassers, called Neighborhood Navigators, seeking to personally engage with Chattanooga residents. Each resident will be asked about their employment and social service needs and an outreach worker will follow-up to connect each person to a workforce development partner, either an employer or service provider. 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, North Carolina, 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 participants the recidivism rate is 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 $1,000 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 Advisory Council, the Office of WFD wanted a way to bring stakeholders together to communicate. In the past 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 Advisory Council and to enlist their buy-in on a number of issues. For the Advisory Council 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 Advisory Council 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

Began February 2019

Gaining a Certificate of Excellence in a skill can often be exactly what someone needs to land a job if they don’t have a 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 a 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 was created in 2018 to further Chattanooga's workforce by connecting residents to the resources they need for economic success. We believe that Chattanooga residents who want to work should be put to work, and we are dedicated to breaking down the barriers that might be keeping them from general employment or a higher paying job.



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

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