Certainly, our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown offers a plethora of job opportunities in a variety of categories — manufacturing, construction, agriculture, education, recreation, hotels, motels, restaurants, government, professional services, medicine, health, food and a broad collection of small businesses, among others.
Each plays a pivotal hand in giving our people jobs.
All are instrumental in attracting newcomers to our community while also giving a reason for longtime residents, and natives, to stay here to raise their children, their grandchildren and generations beyond.
Yet many workers are now crossing county lines to earn their paychecks and it’s happening in both directions. We have thousands of workers holding down gainful jobs inside Bradley County, but we also have thousands who migrate from our community to other towns.
In reciprocal fashion, we have thousands who journey into Cleveland and Bradley County from other communities for work.
In an interview with our newspaper last week, Larry Green, labor market analyst who monitors Bradley County’s employment picture for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, brought to our attention some eye-opening statistics.
1. Some 19,779 residents of Bradley County stay here to earn their paychecks.
2. Some 17,613 residents of Bradley County commute to another community or county to their job sites.
3. Some 14,444 workers who live outside Bradley County commute into our community for employment.
Similar numbers likely are evident in comparably sized communities; however, towns in proximity to much larger cities often witness this kind of employment egress. Certainly, Chattanooga attracts many Cleveland and Bradley County residents for employment. Too, some Hamilton County residents cross the line into Bradley County for their jobs.
Big cities offer this kind of worker appeal.
So does new industry.
We speak specifically of the value of large companies that are choosing the Southeast Tennessee region for their home as much as they are selecting an individual city or county.
The Volkswagen plant near Ooltewah, located just five miles from the Bradley County line, is a prime example. It is attracting workers from any number of communities comprising the counties surrounding the Hamilton perimeter. This includes North Georgia and Alabama.
The newest kid on the regional block is Amazon which has brought two fulfillment centers to the area — in Bradley and Hamilton counties. Each is attracting a share of regional workers. In some cases, it can be assumed Bradley County workers are commuting to the Hamilton facility while Hamilton County workers are commuting to the Bradley center.
It is a point often made locally by Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis who for years has believed in attracting new industry and commerce through a regional approach. Others agree.
Although county governments and their municipal partners rightfully prefer seeing local workers stay at home, it is well understood that people go where jobs are available. This is the advantage of a regional mindset.
Because individual communities have limited resources and available property to entice business newcomers, it is a common assumption that regional growth and intergovernmental cooperation will become a wave of our employment future.
If this is the case, then city and county government jurisdictions that work together, and not apart, will be those whose workers benefit the most.