The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce is working diligently to ensure area business leaders don’t miss the bus regarding the mission and economic impact of Y‑12.
Maria Noel has been part of previously organized trips to the Y‑12 National Security Complex. As she, approximately 50 business leaders from Chattanooga and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) streamed out of a charter bus at the New Hope Center on Oct. 14, she continued to see the same thing on the faces of her colleagues visiting for the first time: a newfound appreciation for the mission and economic impact of Y‑12.
Only about 100 miles away, Y‑12 is often “alien” to Chattanoogans, said Noel, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.
”A lot of times, business leaders in Chattanooga don’t have a sense of what’s up here,” Noel said. “It’s incredibly helpful to see what happens here, see the scope of the mission and make that connection, so it’s not such an alien thing.”
While at Y‑12, the business leaders visited the South Ridge Overlook for a bird’s eye view of the site and were led around the exhibits at New Hope Center by Y‑12 Historian Ray Smith. Y‑12 Site Manager Bill Tindal, Uranium Processing Facility acting Federal Project Director Dale Christensen and UPF Procurement Manager Richard Brown also delivered presentations to the group on the site, the status of Y‑12’s biggest construction project and the economic impact on Tennessee and the region.
The group also visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
“I’m privileged to be part of a trip where I can highlight the job Y‑12 employees do here every day for our national security,” Fleischmann said. “I have articulated this message across the Third District, but it’s valuable for Chattanoogans to come here to see what is done here, and it’s a wonderful experience for all of them.”
The visit also left some eager to come back. Interest in the bus trip organized by the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce exceeded demand, and another is in the works.
“This is great to let everyone get to know what Oak Ridge and Y‑12 are all about and to get that one-on-one interaction and those face-to-face opportunities and learn the Oak Ridge story,” Noel said. “This place is fascinating. It’s a major economic force, and it’s also so important to our history.”
The trip was also detailed in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.