Chattanooga residents, leaders and officials shared hopes for 2018. (Photo: Jerry Kiesewetter, StockSnap) asked business leaders, government officials and area residents what they hope, predict or plan for the new year.

Here’s what they said.

Tennessee Aquarium CEO W. Keith Sanford
“I hope that the economy remains good, gas prices stay flat and economic outlook is steady so that travel and tourism remain good and grow,” he said via email. “This will help the Tennessee Aquarium continue to attract visitors.”

Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce President Christy Gillenwater
In the coming year, the chamber is ready to collaborate with partners and seize opportunities, she said.

“We look forward to launching a couple of new and impactful initiatives/programs in 2018,” said Gillenwater, who recently took over the position. “Stay tuned for our continued forward advancement as we work together to make our community the best it can be.”

Check out the chamber’s end-of-the-year video here.

The Public Library Executive Director Corrine Hill
The library is a valuable asset to the region, so leaders are working to address and solve problems with the goal of making the community stronger, smarter and more sustainable, Hill said. 

“Next year, we will continue to evolve with our community, delivering services worthy of a highly connected, rapidly changing and often-unpredictable world,” Hill also said.

SunTrust Bank East Tennessee Region President Jim Vaughn
Vaughn provided insight into what he said could be a strong year for Chattanooga businesses.

Some key things for local businesses to focus on should include, according to Vaughn, interest rate management and working capital management:

With a strong economy, the U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates again in the coming year, so we are advising businesses to look at their needs and manage for that appropriately. Locking in lower interest rates now is a prudent hedge in anticipation of a rate increase …. Working capital improvements are often overlooked as a lower-risk opportunity to create value. This is even more timely, given the reduction in corporate tax rates that will allow businesses to retain more of the revenue.

He also said, “Given the strong position of our national and local economy, now is the time for business owners to plan for 2018 and take advantage of current conditions to prepare for unlocking additional growth.”

Unum Media Relations Manager Kelly Spencer
“Next year, Unum will continue to invest in the local community where our employees live and work, adopt a more modern and collaborative workspace, and continue our focus on creating an inclusive workforce so all of our employees can reach their fullest potential,” Spencer said. 

Spencer Benefits founder DeForest Spencer
He said:

Chattanooga has a thriving business environment, with heightened economic growth that is expected to continue into the new year. I hope today’s local business leaders plan for the future success of their companies—taking care [of] key people and emerging leaders—so that their ideas, innovations and legacies will be around for generations.

Cambridge Square Marketing and Leasing Director Jim Cheney
Chattanooga will continue to thrive, he predicted.

The city has been able to learn from other growing cities and is well-positioned to use information about what works and what doesn’t in terms of sustained economic development, quality of life and community investment, he said. 

The city’s commitment to local business, startups and young professionals also puts it at an advantage in Cheney’s mind.

“We have witnessed this dynamic firsthand at Cambridge Square and believe that our continued path for success is contingent on listening to what people want rather than speculating about what people need,” he said. 

LAUNCH Public Relations and Communication Manager Rebecca Feldbin
She said:

For 2018 and beyond, I am hoping that Chattanooga really steps up to support entrepreneurs, not just on the startup and development side of things, but in using the products and services they offer.

Chattanooga has great resources for helping small businesses get started, but the best support we can give these entrepreneurs is becoming patrons, clients and customers.

Mannarino Consulting owner Christa Mannarino
“My firm, Mannarino Consulting, is looking forward to new and exciting opportunities for area nonprofits to learn and grow through new initiatives coming in 2018,” she said. 

Bellhops CEO Luke Marklin
With hundreds of thousands of moves under their belt, Bellhops is now looking toward moving into larger cities and taking their brand nationwide. 

“We truly believe who moves you matters,” he said. “And in 2018, we are going to double down on this commitment. We have the right technology and the right people to turn the moving experience into something people look forward to.”

Kyle House Fitness owner Kyle House
Next year, the gym’s leaders aim to grow the company more and possibly open other locations.

“2017 was a great year for us, not just as a company but as a fitness community,” House said. “The people who work out with us deserve the best in fitness, and in 2018, we are doubling down on that commitment. This may be more classes … or even a second location.”

Pass It Down founder Chris Cummings
The digital storytelling platform is looking to expand in the future, and Cummings shared other hopes.

“In 2018, we would love to see the Chattanooga community come together to share its history through the Chattanooga Memory Project,” he said. “Our city’s history and its story [are] such a vital part of our community, and we risk losing these critical moments if they aren’t collected, preserved and shared.”

InfoSystems Director of Marketing Josh Davis
Davis said InfoSystems is committed to being a better technology information resource for the business community in 2018.

“At the rate of innovation and growth in the IT industry, it’s impossible for business leaders to keep up on their own,” he said. “We want to provide honest information so that professionals in our region don’t have to scour the internet and worry about the credibility of the source.”

He also said the business has plans to produce podcasts and other online content to help leaders avoid predatory sales tactics and learn IT skills.

“We are very excited about some big upcoming announcements and for putting out lots of great IT leadership content,” he said. “2018 should be a very fun year.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker
Click here to read about Corker’s plans for his last year in Congress.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander
A spokesperson for Alexander said:

Sen. Alexander is looking forward to continuing to work next year to help improve the lives of Americans by reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, ensuring states and local communities have the tools they need to combat the opioid crisis, and updating legislation to help the country respond to public health emergencies.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke
Berke said that he will continue to work to boost small business, support new companies and keep neighborhoods safe.

He hopes for more money in Chattanooga families’ pockets and more opportunities for residents to live the lives they want to life. Providing this means creating safer neighborhoods, he said.

He also spoke about continuing to help new companies thrive.

“In the year ahead, I look forward to continuing our shared success and partnerships so that together we can make Chattanooga a safer, more vibrant community for all,” he said. 

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger
Coppinger said he is looking forward to repairs and new facilities at Hamilton County schools.

He also talked about a new sewer treatment facility in northwestern Hamilton County, which is necessary for new homes to be built.

“We will continue our efforts to create new businesses and enable our existing business to not only flourish, but expand,” he also said. “We plan to continue [our efforts] as we ensure that Hamilton County is the perfect place to live, work, play and retire.”

Locals responded via Twitter below.