The Chattanooga region has displayed robust growth because of its ideal location within a day’s drive of 30 percent of the U.S. population and two hours from Atlanta international airport. At the heart of this development is the Greater Chattanooga Economic Partnership, which extends into the surrounding areas of north Georgia and north Alabama.

“We cover a broad region. From an investment perspective, one of the biggest investors is Komatsu from Japan, which has almost 400 employees now,” Vice President of Economic Development Charles H. Wood said.

The Greater Chattanooga area has attracted $7 billion dollars in foreign direct investment over the last 10 years. And major Japanese companies, including Shiroki, Kobayashi Healthcare and Nissin Brake, have all expanded their operations in the region.

Complementing those goals, the Southeast Industrial Development Association helps in identifying potential industrial sites for companies looking to establish operations in the region.

“We cover 22 counties across three states and at times, we step in to fill the role of the local economic developer. Japanese companies are very much community contributors that play an important role as corporate citizens,” Executive Director Beth Jones said.

Another organization that has contributed to this endeavor is the McMinn County Economic Development Authority in Tennessee.

“We have more than 600 acres of publicly owned manufacturing sites, 100 acres of which are located next to Denso Manufacturing of Athens TN, our largest employer with over 1,700 associates. McMinn County has a strong automotive cluster, and we are looking to diversify our industrial base.” Executive Director Kathy Price said.