Thrive Regional Partnership (Thrive), an organization that builds public/private partnerships for responsible growth in greater Chattanooga, is collaborating with the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) on a research project to understand freight capacity and explore multimodal freight transportation in the tri-state region.

The open source data platform, called the Greater Chattanooga Freight Hub (GCFH), will be the first of its kind to integrate information from across three states (Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee) that are critical corridors of the southeastern supply chain network. The resulting research will be a resource to several sectors in the 16-county region (and beyond), including the logistics and manufacturing industries, public leaders, and educational institutions that have supply chain and transportation professional programs.

“Called the heart of Freight Alley, this region is a critical logistics hub that supports our local industries and consumers. But, there’s a lack of centralized data that highlights how freight movement in one state or sector impacts quality of life in another,” said Debra Stone, Logistics Cost Analyst for McKee Foods and chair of Thrive’s Freight Mobility Coalition. “This research partnership will provide planners, businesses, and elected officials open access to the information they need to make well-informed decisions that encourage safe and efficient transportation of people and goods.”

Additionally, this research will parallel environmental priorities determined in Thrive’s Cradle of Southern Appalachia regional conservation blueprint. By layering transportation needs and projections alongside environmental priority areas, planners and leaders can make decisions that support an array of stakeholders.

“Geospatial data not only underscores ‘what’ the issues are, rather, it pinpoints ‘where’ they occur,” said Tony Giarrusso, Senior Research Scientist and Associate Director of Center for Spatial Planning and Visualization. “We are pleased to partner with Thrive on this transportation and mobility data hub, which, especially when layered with environmental research, will be a valuable tool for government and industry leaders to understand the impacts of infrastructure decisions at the community and regional level and in various contexts.”

“An objective data source to understand the transportation trends across state and county lines will be a valuable tool in infrastructure decisions and policies in all levels of government,” said Dan Howell, Chair of the Tennessee House of Representatives Transportation Committee.

The research resulting from this collaboration will be extremely helpful in identifying key corridors and potential projects that could potentially benefit from funding from the recently passed federal infrastructure bill, as well as prepare the region’s students for careers in logistics and the supply chain.

“Serving on the Thrive Regional Partnership Board of Trustees allows me the opportunity to represent DeKalb County, making sure we have a voice at the table,” said Jennifer McCurdy, Executive Director, Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce. “Most recently serving on the Freight and Mobility Committee, leading the charge in connecting our local businesses with others in the freight and mobility initiative as it applies to our corner of the greater Chattanooga area,” said McCurdy.

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