Area businesspeople are happy about the new direct flight to New York City, which they said can have a positive economic impact on the city.
“As the city continues to build its economy and the entrepreneurial ecosystem, it makes great sense to foster relationships and ties to New York, especially among the investment community,” Stefanie Crowe, SmartBank chief experience and strategy officer, said via email.
“Chicago represents another great business market that we’ll have access to. We’re excited about the commitment that United, the city and the Airport Authority have shown by adding both New York and Chicago flights for Chattanooga flyers and businesses.”
Officials announced Friday that United Airlines will provide new nonstop service from Chattanooga to New York and Chicago beginning late summer.
United will offer two daily flights to both cities, starting Sept. 7. The New York and Chicago service will be provided through Newark Liberty International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport, respectively.
The news came after airport leaders had been working for years to get a direct NYC flight.
Leaders of local publicly traded companies, such as SmartBank and Unum, said the NYC flight addition is beneficial, in part because employees have business in NYC.
For example, some local leaders visited the Nasdaq market site last month in Times Square for the Nasdaq stock market closing bell ceremony.
And Crowe, who is also a partner in female-led venture capital group The JumpFund, recently attended an angel investor summit in New York City. While there, she and JumpFund managing partner Kristina Montague met investors who are looking for female-led ventures and loved hearing about what’s happening in Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial scene.
“There’s opportunity to channel that capital to the Southeast to continue to fuel our growth; I’m grateful to the leaders who have the vision to ‘grease the wheels’ via transportation,” Crowe said.
Unum Director of Corporate Communications MC Guenther said that the company has major offices in other midsize cities like Chattanooga, so leaders understand the challenge of air travel.
“Anytime a route is added to major airports it’s a plus for us, and New York is a frequent destination for our finance and investor relations teams,” she also said.
VaynerMedia Vice President/head of the Chattanooga office Mickey Cloud and company co-founder Gary Vaynerchuk have been outspoken about the need for a direct flight to NYC.
Since opening the Chattanooga office in July, local team members have taken trips to NYC about once a month. And they’ve had at least 20 senior executives and team members come from NYC to Chattanooga, Cloud said.
And now that the company has a direct connection to its NYC headquarters, he expects even more travel.
“We’ve been vocal about our interest in an NYC-CHA direct flight-not only because of the business implications for us, but also so that more of our friends in the tristate area can come visit easier,” Cloud said.