Tag Archives: Chattanooga

Economic Trends: A Dialogue with the Fed – by Deborah Levine

The Federal Reserve and Chattanooga Discuss National & Global Economic Trends

A Federal Reserve Director of Regional Economic Information Network, Galina Alexeenko, recently spoke at the International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.  Alexeenko is an international economist, headquartered in the Fed’s Atlanta office and connected to its five branches in the Southeast region. She participated in an interactive discussion with fellow international economist Anton Demenchuk, president of the IBC. The meeting was supported by the Office of International Programs and the College of Business /University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) and sponsored by AIM/Career Link. Alexeenko shared her personal perspective on a wide range of fiscal and economic topics with the audience of educators, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders.

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International Business Trends: A Chattanooga Story

Chattanooga is one of many small and medium size Southern cities to see its business trends shaped by an influx of international companies. Their impact has greatly influenced the direction of the South’s economy. They have generated elevated job expectations, developed new vendors, expanded exporting efforts, and are changing the local education system.The most recent meeting of the International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce hosted Alnoor Dhanani, President of Double Cola USA, and Nick Wilkinson, Deputy Administrator of Economic Development at the City of Chattanooga.

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Women GroundBreakers: Stories of Immigrants – by Deborah Levine

Chattanooga’s 2016 women GroundBreakers Storytelling Series began with a session on immigrants. Introduced by entrepreneur Denise Reed, three women who immigrated to the US and Chattanooga shared their stories, followed by Dr. Lisa Clark Diller, Chair of History & Political Studies/ Southern Adventist University.
Diller explained, “Historians collect stories over time and then try to draw conclusions about them, so I hope to make some general observations here about women and immigration in Chattanooga—which are set in the larger U.S. historical context.”

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Globalization on Campus: A Chattanooga Case Study – by Deborah Levine

Educating for Going Global

The International Business Council (IBC) of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a panel of educators who have much to teach us about globalization. IBC speakers often represent the international businesses that have flocked to this small Southern city. This month’s speakers spoke of how higher education is at the heart of our growing local-global connection. Their new initiatives, and in some cases, still emerging programs, aim to simultaneously bring greater numbers of international students to local campuses while globalizing Chattanooga’s students through study abroad.

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The Power of Words and a Nudge – by Deborah Levine

Where better to hear a speech on The Power of Words than at a library? That was Tom Griscom’s topic at the annual meeting of Chattanooga’s public library board of directors. I couldn’t resist joining them atop four floors of books, DVDs, and periodicals. Griscom had revitalized my passion for writing almost a decade ago. As editor and publisher of The Chattanooga Times Free Press, he created a cadre of community correspondents who reported weekly on events in their neck of the woods. I hemmed and hawed when first contacted, but the young reporter got me when she said, “C’mon. You know you want to.” Yes, I did, for years, and never regretted it.

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Making the Chattanooga-German Connection – by Deborah Levine

Tennessee is home to hundreds of international companies worth billions of dollars. Chattanooga, the smallest of Tennessee’s four major cities, is the site of the only Volkswagen plant in the United States. VW is not the only German company in our area, but its arrival a half dozen years ago  made cultural competence a high priority. German companies orient their executives to Southern culture, energizing Chattanooga’s globalization and investment in cross-cultural training.

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Global Leadership: Southern Women Lean In – by Deborah Levine

Chattanooga’s Lean In – Women GroundBreakers is a Think Tank of diverse faith, community, youth, and business leaders. The women meet monthly to discuss trends and strategies for making a difference. As part of the international Lean In movement, their Think Tank discussions are published locally and globally. Be inspired by their Words of Wisdom on October’s topic: Global Leadership. First, check out their strategies for building a global mindset.

4 Top Strategies for Building a Global Mindset

1. Be Aware

  • Acknowledge your biases.
  • Be open to the ideas of others.
  • Know yourself and be authentic.

2. Be Educated

  • Learn about issues on a global level, not just locally or nationally.
  • Know the customs of other countries and religions.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Continue your education. You can’t speak out on something you don’t understand.
  • Research how other women developed into global leaders.

3. Communicate across Cultures

  • Consolidate your ideas into a format that is easily shared with others.
  • Listen and understand life from a person who is not like you.
  • Respect the customs of different countries and religions when you speak your mind.

4. Put your Ideas into Action

  • Decide how you want to make a difference.
  • List and then prioritize the paths you want to take.
  • Contact the community leaders working in your areas of interest.
  • Pursue your mission and encourage others to pursue their dreams.

Groundbreakers’ Words of Wisdom

Carrie DiMemmo, nonprofit and development professional
“Global leaders did not wake up one day and decide to lead on a global scale. They started doing small things within their local communities and built on that. They may have a global vision, but they always have a local start. You can’t change the world without changing yourself first.”

Tina Player, Event Planner
“We should recognize who we are and the purpose of our existence. Never be classified or placed in a specific box. Create your own box with a unique size, color, and bow. It’s most important to know who you are and WHY!

Denise Reed, Chief Business Connector at The Concierge Office Suites
“Share your life experience and business experience so other can see the opportunities in front of them and make a positive difference.”

Brenda Freeman Short, Lawyer, teacher, and political leader
“Global leadership requires the recognition of all human beings as valuable citizens of this plant, However, caring for others does not necessarily mean acceptance of another’s lifestyle. Leadership can agree to disagree.”

Laura Hessler, Owner of The HR Shop
“Everyone has a story and a part of leadership is understanding the solicitation, verbalization, and promotions of those stories that in turn can inspire others to act.”

Cathryn Cohen, Retired attorney and county library executive director
“Remember that women, whether by birth or by choice, are entitled to everything men have always had.”

Ardena Garth, Attorney and former public defender
“Fear keeps me from getting to know and understand what is going on in the world around me. Caring about others is a start to develop global leaders. Knowledge will help combat that fear.”

Leanne Baron, Consultant
“If we can come together in our local communities and identify the top issues and then make a plan to work together, we can can make a difference which can spread to the national global level. We’ve been good at coming up with ideas, but need to be better at putting those ideas into action and bringing about change.”

ASPIRE & INSPIRE!

Inspiration Stories & Strategies of Southern Women

How do Chattanooga’s women overcome obstacles to Think Big and help others do the same? Chattanooga’s Lean In – Women Groundbreakers tackled the question at their September Think Tank meeting. Their Success Stories and How-to Stories have inspired family members, colleagues, friends, community leaders, church youth groups, and former inmates. The Words of Wisdom from these groundbreakers will inspire you, too.

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Globalization Progresses in Chattanooga – by Deborah Levine

The transformation of the South by international industry has picked up speed. In 1974, there were only 19 foreign-owned manufacturers in Tennessee. They were valued at $649 million. In 1995, the state had 400 foreign-owned firms with a value of $15 billion. By 2013, the number of foreign-owned firms had more than doubled to 864 with a value of $30 billion. According to the Global Location Trends Report by the IBM Institute, Tennessee led the nation in jobs created by foreign owned firms.

Five years ago, there was no International Business Council (IBC) of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Chattanooga. Today, IBC Past President Anjelika Riano, current President Anton Demenchuk, both immigrants from the Ukraine, and President-Elect Marty Lester took turns informing, amusing, and congratulating the multi-lingual audience on the transformation. The family-like atmosphere was continued by the Chamber’s Vice President of Economic Development, Charles Wood, who shared how he enjoyed bringing companies to town for the shock value. “For a community of our size, it’s very surprising and very metropolitan.”

As for the future, almost weekly there are announcements in The Chattanooga Times Free Press of companies planning to relocate to the area or expand existing factories and services. Wood reported that a billion dollars worth of projects are in the pipeline to Chattanooga, half of that coming from international companies. He praised Hamilton County and the City of Chattanooga for making the transformation possible, and thanked the event sponsors: Chattanooga Coca Cola and Bryan College.

The Chamber’s VP of Public Policy, Rob Bradham, introduced the topic, What International Companies Expect from Chattanooga’s Workforce. He also introduced the panel of HR executives from global companies with plants in the Chattanooga area.
Sebastian Patta from automobile manufacturer Volkswagen.
Dr. Erika Burk from polysilicon manufacturer Wacker.
Joe Fuqua from construction manufacturer Komatsu.
Tony Cates from automobile parts manufacturer Gestamp.

The panelists’ friendly competition was entertaining and light hearted, but they were serious about recruiting and training of a local workforce. Describing the uphill battle, Cates said, “Good folks are hard to find. I talk to groups helping people get jobs. I go into churches, talk to schools and teachers, explain the skill set the need. We bring the kids in for tours and develop partnerships, but it’s going to be tough…”

To encourage and educate promising Chattanoogans, the companies provide internships, apprenticeships, plant tours, and partnerships with schools and colleges. They anticipated the lack of high-tech skills. They did not expect either the substantial number failing drug tests of the lack of education basics. Burk explained that Wacker made a $3 million investment to develop a college program to meet the company’s needs. “It was surprising that early applicants couldn’t pass the reading and math literacy test. Remedial courses were necessary.”

Dedication should match the technical skills. Cates explained, “The best strategy is to find good people and train them up. We started internships with high school students, but how do you get kids to commit and have the patience to get degrees?” He added, “Program a robot and Gestamp will hire you.” Patta shared his perspective, “They have to stay for a 10-hour shift, be there on time, and follow Volkswagen’s policies. High school graduates have no idea of what goes on. They need more practical workplace experience.”

The panelists concluded by asking for referrals of local candidates to intern in their international companies. While they currently import their most specialized engineers, especially for the Research and Development departments now located here, they’re open to local referrals at that level, too. The transformation of a small Southern city into a global village progresses.

Race Relations and the Confederate Flag – by Deborah Levine

Morris Dees, Founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), was the featured speaker at the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga annual First Amendment dinner. Mr. Dees was introduced by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. Mayor Berke, a member of Chattanooga’s Jewish community was comfortable in the Federation setting and shared that he was not wearing a tie due to the well-known perils of ketchup. Picking up on the informality, Dees removed his own tie and listened, along with a packed house, to the mayor’s remarks.

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