Greater Chattanooga is a destination for headquarters and major back office operations. Companies across a diverse spectrum, from health care to financial services to real estate development, have found a winning combination of lower costs, ample talent supply, academic partnerships, quality office space and a highly desirable quality of life.
The region lies strategically at the center of the eastern U.S. and offers ready access to three major interstates. Cost of living advantages, a labor force that is dependable and efficient, and a quality of life that blends the best of urban life with outdoor amenities just minutes away give the region high curb appeal for headquarters and back office operations.
One such operation is Unum, a Chattanooga-based Fortune 500 company that specializes in disability, life, accident, critical illness, dental and vision insurance accessible in the workplace. Unum ranks first in group and individual disability and is in the top five in the nation in voluntary benefits and group life. More than 33 million people at 181,000 companies rely on Unum’s products and services, including a third of the Fortune 500. Unum’s roots in the region go back more than 125 years and the company employs more than 2,800 workers in downtown Chattanooga and nearby locations. Tom White, Unum senior vice president for investor relations, says the company benefits from the region’s ability to draw skilled and knowledgeable talent. “There is a great deal of flexibility and livability about Chattanooga,” says White, adding that the quality of life plays a role in the company’s high employee retention rate.
As a major downtown employer, Unum has also played a key part in redevelopment efforts and taken an active leadership role in economic development. The company supports a number of community endeavors, such as awarding grants to area teachers.
From its headquarters in Chattanooga, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee serves more than 3.3 million people. Founded in 1945, BlueCross Blue Shield employs more than 6,000 people 3in the Chattanooga area. Since its move to its Cameron Hill headquarters, the company has seen a 15 percent increase in employment. “Chattanooga has always been home to us,” says Roy Vaughn, senior vice president and chief communications officer of BlueCross BlueShield. “Chattanooga provides so much to operate successfully – from a strong employment candidate pool to a vibrant business climate. We’re very happy to call Chattanooga home.”
The company also has a strong commitment in the community. “We have supported many projects and causes in the region both financially and with the resources of our employee volunteers,” Vaughn says.
Greater Chattanooga: Quality of Life Appeal
Other successful companies based in the region include Chattanooga’s PlayCore, a developer of educational play and recreation products including equipment for playgrounds, outdoor fitness and dog parks, bike storage and scoreboards.
Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Properties Inc., one of the largest shopping center real estate investment trusts in the United States, holds interests in or manages more than 140 properties including market-dominant enclosed malls and open-air centers across the U.S. Founded in 1997, the family- operated Chattanooga-based Vision Hospitality Group owns and manages premium hotels affiliated with the Hilton, Marriott and InterContinental brands.
The region is also a hub for call center operations of all types. HomeServe, a British company that provides emergency repair service plans, launched an expansion in 2017 that includes a new 46,000-square-foot facility and the addition of 200 jobs during the next five years.
TVA Generates Growth in Greater Chattanooga
The Tennessee Valley Authority maintains major operations in the region. TVA’s economic development efforts resulted in growing or retaining 72,000 jobs and stimulating $8.3 billion in capital investment in its service area in fiscal year 2016. TVA employs more than 3,500 workers in the region. TVA attributed its 2016 gains to two factors: more opportunity due to an increase in new projects and the competitive and reliable power provided by TVA and its local power company partners.
“TVA electricity powers the region’s economy around the clock,” said Bill John, TVA president and chief executive officer. “Our economic development team works directly with local power companies, economic development agencies and others to bring good jobs to the region and keep them here.”