THRIVE 2055 is a volunteer-driven, public-private initiative focused on proactively engaging people from across the region, connected by landscape and common experiences, in setting a course for our shared future. This initiative is an opportunity for local businesses, non-profits, government representatives, and citizens from the 16-County Tri-State region to come together to examine our successes and challenges and plan a course of action for how we can work together for a brighter tomorrow.
A wide-array of businesses, local governments, and non-profit organizations from the region established the THRIVE 2055 process. The effort is being lead by the THRIVE 2055 Coordinating Committee, a representative body of local volunteers appointed by the founding partners as stewards for the process. The Coordinating Committee is assisted in this process by Bridgett Massengill the local project manager, a team of local professional staff from the partner agencies, and the McBride Dale Clarion consultant team. Click here to see a list of the partner agencies.
The focus of THRIVE 2055 is a tri-state region of Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama, connected by landscape, watersheds, and local issues. There are 16-counties, and 79 municipalities within the region. Click here to see a map of the THRIVE 2055 Region!
In 1990 the 16-County region had a population of approximately 806,000 , by 2000 that population had grown to approximately 920,000, and in 2010 the reported population was approximately 1,019,000. Over a 20 year period, the region grew by 26%, and 213,000 people. The average annual growth rate for the region during that period is 1.18%. In 20 years, Sequatchie County, Murray County, and Catoosa County more than doubled their populations; and Hamilton, Whitfield, Bradley, Catoosa, DeKalb, and Murray Counties have had the largest numeric increases in population respectively, with 157,000 people or 73% of the regional population increase occurring in these six counties.
Most communities within the region have experienced only modest to moderate growth in the last 10 to 15 years (between 0.6%-2.4% average annual growth). This trend has begun to shift, as the region has attracted more than $4 billion in new business investment since 2008. Major new companies moving into the area include Volkswagen, Wacker-Chemie, Alstom, and Amazon, resulting in the remarkable creation of hundreds of new jobs in just the last 4 years.
The center of the region completed the nation's largest 100% fiber-optic network, providing all homes and businesses in a 600 square-mile area with up to 1 Gig internet speeds. The investment is envisioned to attract significant tech industry investments in the coming years. The region is noted for its scenic, cultural, and civic amenities which are highly valued by its residents and area visitors, and are key assets to recruiting and retaining its major employers.
As a result, the region is experiencing a great deal of optimism and is very well positioned for accelerated growth on several fronts. Local citizens are excited by the region's increasing opportunities, but there is also a strong desire to preserve the community identity, quality of life, and other elements of local flavor that have made the area so attractive.
Accelerated growth is also exacerbating some existing challenges and in some cases creating new ones. The region's rural areas are struggling with double-digit unemployment and gaps between current work force skills and the demands of emerging and retooling industries. Local governments are fiscally restrained and challenged to meet the existing infrastructure needs at a time when impending growth is likely to demand new infrastructure and public facilities. To make matters worse, growth pressures are occurring in areas that have limited infrastructure support. In some cases, these growth pressures are beginning to threaten the region's critical scenic and environmental resources. There is also an increasing concern about an escalating trend of economic isolation among at-risk families in urban and rural pockets throughout the region as the job market shifts to higher-skilled labor.
Regional issues such as air quality, stormwater management, preservation of scenic assets, and water resource management transcend local political boundaries, but there is currently no regional vision in place to address these challenges.
Entities with cross-jurisdiction responsibilities, such as the Southeast Tennessee Development District and the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, have noteworthy histories of cooperative planning, problem-solving, and leadership. More recently, the Archway Partnership strategic planning process is underway in Whitfield County/Dalton, and is addressing many issues that affect that part of the region. Similarly, the BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan in Bradley County/Cleveland has established a framework for collaboration among its communities
Local leaders recognize the connections through the economy and built and natural environments that make your community part of this region. With the need to provide services to a growing population with ever tighter budgets and a future with less federal funding, local communities are looking for opportunities to work with their neighbors to provide services and infrastructure at the lowest cost and in the most responsible manner possible. This project presents opportunities for the local communities to work together to find fiscally responsible solutions to shared challenges and reach beyond today to create a thriving region.
The project is estimated to have a total cost of $3 million and there is still a need to raise the remaining funds. Funding for the initiative is contributed by a variety of business, local government, and non-profit partners and is managed through the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's Non-Profit Foundation.
Many of these organizations are also contributing significantly through dedication of staff, information, and other resources. The total amount contributed thus far is $2,540,000. The City of Chattanooga has committed $500,000; Hamilton County has committed $500,000; private area foundations have committed $1 million total; and private area businesses have committed $540,000 total. There are opportunities for other interested parties or partner counties and communities to contribute.
In the short-term, you will have opportunities to engage with community leaders to identify regional challenges and opportunities, and examine "what if" scenarios to help identify strategies and solutions. In the long-term, THRIVE 2055 may affect you by creating more public/private partnerships to make the region more fiscally efficient, increase employment and education opportunities, maintain and preserve aspects of the region people cherish, and regionally share successes.
The initial scope for THRIVE 2055 will take approximately 3-years during which several benchmarks will be met. However, it is possible that the outcome of the initial 3-year process may result in continued regional efforts to take action on the resulting strategies.
Regions share successes and failures, what happens in one community or county can affect the others. Not all issues are regional but there are key factors such as the economy, air and water quality, access to drinking water, power, education, access to health care, and transportation systems which have significant regional effects. How the region functions and funds the maintenance of these factors will impact you in the quality of life you enjoy and how much you pay in taxes to support these efforts. You can make a difference in this region by engaging with your neighbors to communicate with your local leaders and elected officials about what is important to you, or by volunteering to take a leadership role in this process and help carry out the recommendations from the effort. For more information on getting involved please Click Here!
The website www.THRIVE2055.com is the primary source of information for the project. You can visit our Documents & Links page to view reports and presentations or visit our interactive maps to look at information about the region. You can get involved through our working groups if you are interested in playing a more active part in the process. Or you can join us at a local event where more detailed information will be available. Click here to search for past and upcoming events.
If you are interested in having one of our speakers speak at an event, please contact Bridgett Massengill.
If you have a concern you think has regional implications, there are several ways you can engage in this process.
The Coordinating Committee will approve the final recommendations from THRIVE 2055. Some of the products of this process may serve as templates for local communities or organizations to create their own policies or programs if they so choose. However, it is the objective of this process that each community or entity take from this process what is beneficial to its constituents. The Coordinating Committee does not have the authority to approve or adopt policies or programs which can be enforced at a local level.