Mayor Andy Berke is launching Workforce Outreach, a new public engagement campaign that will work to connect some of the city’s most disinvested neighborhoods with a variety of opportunities.

The kickoff event will take place Thursday at Southside Community Park and in the Alton Park neighborhood from noon to 1:30 p.m.

“Workforce Outreach is about literally meeting people where they live so we can make sure they know about the many things that local government and our partners can be doing to help them boost their wages, grow their skills, and find more stable and rewarding jobs,” Berke said in a prepared statement.

The program will provide opportunities for people to complete their education, enhance their skills and find better jobs.


Over the course of the next 50 weeks, Workforce Outreach staff intends to connect at least 3,500 people to jobs, skills training, or education.

“Chattanooga’s economy is performing well, but that means we need to be making even more significant investments in reaching out and pulling people up,” Berke said in a prepared statement.

Door-to-door canvassing, phone calls to constituents, direct mail, and dropboxes in key places in each neighborhood are among the communication methods that will be deployed as part of the campaign.

Workforce Outreach will be administered by the city’s new Office of Workforce Development within the city’s Department of Economic & Community Development.

The Office of Workforce Development is led by Kent Burnes, a business and workforce development consultant with more than 28 years of experience.

“People have skills but aren’t aware that companies are hiring,” Burnes said in a prepared statement. “Employers want workers, but don’t know where to look for them. Workforce Outreach wants to bridge those gaps and help everyone grow together.”

The Workforce Outreach campaign will involve partners such as the American Job Center, the Educational Opportunity Center, and local employers as well as neighborhood organizations dedicated to serving specific neighborhoods such as the Bethlehem Center and the Northside Neighborhood House.

Thursday’s event at Southside Community Park will be followed by an afternoon of door-to-door canvassing in the Alton Park neighborhood by Mayor Berke, City Councilman Erskine Oglesby, Jr. and ECD staff.

“We owe it to ourselves and future generations of Chattanoogans to use our current economic momentum to pull everyone forward so that everyone can benefit from a great job at a good wage,” Oglesby said in a prepared statement.