ACCE Chamber of the Year Knows a Winning Project When It Sees One

Christy Gillenwater, President and CEO of the 2017 Chamber of the Year, is wise to trends -- from the economic to the demographic.

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The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, like those Gillenwater has led before, is also very effective at what chambers do best: driving economic development. The chamber drove more than a half-billion dollars in economic impact from July 2015 to December 2017, according to a recent report.

So it should perhaps come as no surprise that when its member -- the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport -- recently announced that it was positioned to become the first airport in the nation to be 100 percent powered by solar energy, Gillenwater championed the move.

"We applaud the Chattanooga Airport -- and our region -- for continuing to demonstrate such exciting and important leadership in energy innovation," Gillenwater said. The airport's transition to solar energy, which is being funded largely through federal grants, is expected to lower costs and make the airport energy self-sufficient.

Gillenwater has also observed that investment in renewable energy is important for communities that want to attract young talent.

"I think it is important today for chambers to be engaged in clean energy, as the millennial generation is very focused on these issues; and if you want to attract that kind of talent, it's critical to look at clean energy as a core value," she said. "Local chambers are perfectly positioned to lead this."

Read more in the Times Free Press.