Chattanooga is home to the first local manufacturing association in the country, having started in 1902, and the entity has a new leader.
The board of the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association (CRMA) and its affiliate, the Tennessee Association of Manufacturers, has named Megan King as new president and chief executive.
King, 28, who joined CRMA in 2011, replaces Tim Spires, who died in February.
She said her focus will be on serving the needs of manufacturers predominately in the Chattanooga region.
"Right now, we really want to focus on Chattanooga," said King, who was the operations director for the 200-member trade association.
Spires in 2013 had laid out a vision for the statewide manufacturing group, citing a need for work on issues such as education and workforce development.
King said that while the Tennessee Association of Manufacturers that Spires launched will continue, plans are to focus on the original mission of serving Chattanooga area manufacturers.
She said training and workforce issues are at "the top of the list" when it comes to manufacturing.
Earlier this month, a new report card on the sector in America gave Tennessee a "B" for manufacturing health but a "D" for human capital as it faces labor challenges.
King, who holds an MBA from Kennesaw State University, said the Chattanooga manufacturers' group has multiple committees, including education and workforce development, logistics and transportation and economic development.
Robert Gagliano, who is BASF's Chattanooga site director and chairman of the CRMA and Tennessee Association of Manufacturers' boards, said King's work going forward reflects the joint belief that the organization as a whole can be most effective through interaction with industry in the region.
"Manufacturing in our region has experienced extensive growth during the last several years," he said.
Denise Rice, who directs the Tennessee Manufacturers Association based in Nashville as part of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Chattanooga has deep manufacturing roots and the Tennessee Manufacturers Association will work with King and CRMA in their regional approach.
The Tennessee Manufacturers Association, with 500 members across Tennessee, will continue as the state affiliate to the National Association of Manufacturers and support CRMA statewide and for any of its needs nationally, she said.
Rice said a qualified workforce is the No. 1 issue from manufacturers, followed by infrastructure and transportation and state regulations.
CRMA was founded in 1902 as the Chattanooga Manufacturers Association with Capt. C.D. Mitchell, a Civil War veteran from Iowa, serving as the first president.
Mitchell returned to Chattanooga after the war and was operating the Chattanooga Plow Co. when he and other leaders saw the need for concerted action by manufacturers to obtain favorable freight rates on products shipped by rail to Midwest markets.