First cohort of Builder’s Blueprint Program begins to create new pipeline of general contractors

Chattanooga, Tenn. (February 29, 2024) – The Kelly Administration is happy to announce the coalition of the first cohort of the Builder’s Blueprint Program – a program intended to lower barriers to entry for individuals hoping to pursue a career in general contracting. The first cohort of the Builder’s Blueprint Program met for the first time earlier this month and will meet on a weekly basis.

Made possible by the City of Chattanooga’s partnership with the Southern Cities for Economic Inclusion (SCEI) initiative, the National League of Cities, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, Pathway Lending, and Tech Goes Home, the Builder’s Blueprint Program provides the education, training, and resources to community members wishing to become general contractors, but are otherwise deterred by state requirements to obtain their licenses.

The State of Tennessee requires applicants for a general contractor license to prove a net worth of 10% of the project cost for which they are applying. For example, if someone is applying for a contracting license with a total monetary limit of $100,000, they must prove they have access to $10,000 in capital – which is not always possible for individuals, specifically those of color, who are applying for the licenses.

“We can’t change the rules, but we can make them easier to navigate,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly. “The Builder’s Blueprint Program is directly supportive of our mission to increase the diversity of contractors and vendors that are able to do business in and with the city and to make it easier for them to do so, creating critically needed economic opportunities for our minority community.”

By signing up for the Builder’s Blueprint Program, participants get financial counseling, access to necessary capital via a grant through the National League of Cities and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, and a laptop computer, business management tools, mentorship and networking opportunities, and more.

The idea came to the attention of The Kelly Administration when Theodore Sanders, a current participant in the program and owner of Sanders Remodeling, brought concerns to the City about the barriers to applying for contracting licenses. Those barriers were keeping a disproportionate number of subcontractors of color out of contention from becoming general contractors. Later, as part of the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s Southern Cities for Economic Inclusion program, Mayor Kelly and a team from the City were able to sketch out the details of the program.

“The Builder’s Blueprint Program fulfills the one of the core tenets of the One Chattanooga Plan – providing more equitable access to economic opportunities as our city continues to grow,” said Dylan Rivera, Director of Policy Planning and Implementation for the City of Chattanooga. “Thanks to the resources, guidance, and dedication from our partners to creating lasting positive impact, this work will continue to strengthen our workforce development operations, increase economic mobility in every neighborhood, and encourage small business growth.”

“The Builders Blueprint program is opening doors and giving me the tools to take my business to the next level, creating generational wealth that will put my family in a position I have worked so hard for but always felt just out of reach,” said Sanders. “Through this program, I can get the assistance I need to succeed and contribute to building a stronger city – this is the hand-up that will change the lives of all of us who go through the program.”

Individuals interested in participating in the program in the future should go to to learn more.