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Leading industries and employers in the Chattanooga metro area

The economic landscape of Chattanooga, who’s hiring, and who’s most likely to expand investments into our community.

Wide shot of Chattanooga spanning both sides of the bridge during the spring/summer months

We’re diving into the some of Chattanooga’s top employers.

Table of Contents

More than 562,600 people (and thousands of businesses) contribute to the Chattanooga metro area’s economy. But have you ever wondered about the Scenic City’s heaviest hitters?

Consider this Chattanooga Business 101 — your guide to some of our region’s key industries and major employers.

Note: When we say the Chattanooga metro area, that refers to Hamilton, Marion, and Sequatchie counties in Tennessee + Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in Georgia.

Green Volkswagen Atlas in front of a Chattanooga sign.

Whether you work for these companies or use their services, these industries are leaders in our city’s economy.

Photo by Volkswagen Atlas via Chattanooga Tourism Co.

The key industries

The following six industries represent ~72% of the Chattanooga metro area’s economy, based on data from the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce (as of 2022). We’ve listed them in order of employment numbers.

Manufacturing | 14% or 38,200 employees

Businesses like Volkswagen Chattanooga and Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Co., among many others, help make manufacturing a major industry in the area.

Government | 13% or 36,500 employees

Government figures from the chamber include TVA and Hamilton County Schools, in addition to other local government positions.

Educational & Health Services | 13% or 35,200 employees

With organizations like Erlanger and CHI Memorial being two of the top five major employers in the area, it’s no secret that Educational & Health Services is a key local industry.

Professional & Business Services | 11% or 30,000 employees

Everything from accounting and law firms to banks and marketing agencies fall under this umbrella.

Leisure & Hospitality | 11% or 28,900 employees

The estimated 15+ million people who visit the area each year — and their ~$1.5 billion in spending, according to Chattanooga Tourism Co. — have played a major role in this sector’s growth.

Retail Trade | 10% or 28,400 employees

The retail trade industry includes establishments that sell products and after-sale services related to these products, such as cleaning or repair.

Exterior of Erlanger hospital

Does this list surprise you?

Photo provided by Erlanger

The major players

Now that we’ve established the major industries, we bet you’re curious for specific names. Whether you’re job hunting or just “casually prospecting,” here are seven major local employers — all that employ more than 3,000 full-time workers on average. Find more top employers here.

Employee numbers listed below indicate full-time employees.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
6,607 employees | Health care financing | Search jobs
Tennessee’s largest health benefit plan company, BCBST offers multiple job opportunities for those in the Chattanooga area — many of which are remote.

Hamilton County Schools
5,597 employees | Elementary + secondary schools | Search jobs
From school secretary to boil system technician and substitute teacher, there are a variety of careers that help support the area’s K-12th grade students.

Erlanger
5,519 employees | Health system | Search jobs
Erlanger serves as one of five Level One Trauma Centers statewide (and the only one in our region), an academic teaching hospital, and is affiliated with the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga.

Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC
5,275 employees | Manufacturing automobiles | Search jobs
Operating as one of the city’s leading spaces for EV innovation, our Volkswagen plant offers various jobs and educational opportunities through its academy for folks in the community.

Tennessee Valley Authority
3,901 employees | Utility-electric service | Search jobs
Tennessee Valley Authority provides electricity for well over 100 local power companies serving ~10 million people in Tennessee and parts of six surrounding states. Want to learn how they do it? Get an inside look at the Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant.

CHI Memorial
3,634 employees | Health care | Search jobs
Check out one of the 200+ open jobs currently listed for CHI Memorial, an area not-for-profit, faith-based healthcare organization.

McKee Foods Corp.
3,300 employees | Manufacturing cakes + cookies| Search jobs
Maker of the beloved Little Debbie snacks and more, this company (based in nearby Collegedale) offers careers ranging from food science to regional sales positions.

This information is derived from the most recent data published by the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.

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