UPDATE: Ochs Center in transition; searching for funding source - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Ochs Center in transition; searching for funding source

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UPDATE: A non-profit research center is looking for funding sources in hopes of continuing its work that has spanned decades in the Tennessee Valley.

“The key word to use is transition,” said Dr. Mary Tanner, former director of the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies, who resigned in October due to health reasons.

Tanner, who said she was asked to speak on behalf of the Ochs Center, said due to a funding shortage the center was forced to close its doors. On April 30, staff left the physical office building on McCallie Avenue.

She said centers, like the Ochs Center, often have a stable funding source such as an endowment or a partnership.

The Ochs Center is working to keep the center alive by securing funds. They are in talks with foundations, Tanner said.

“We're trying to work out a better arrangement,” she said.

In the meantime, no new projects are being taken on by the research staff. Staff members can be reached independently for any follow up on projects.

Local media initially reported the closing of the research center after a message was posted on the Ochs Center website.

PREVIOUS STORY: The Ochs Center of Metropolitan Studies is closing its doors today.

The center was known throughout the community for providing data analysis.

"The face of research has changed dramatically since the beginnings of the Ochs Center in the 1960's," according to the non-profit's website. "Demographic and economic information has never been more available as it is today through the Internet.  With the shift, the role of the Ochs Center as a non-profit research center also changed."

The center's website states that researchers who delivered the data can be reached "independently to collect, make sense of, and see beyond the data to turn it into information that makes a difference."

In 2012, the center completed a gang analysis for the city of Chattanooga in partnership with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"The Ochs Center played a critical role in public policy development and program evaluation in Chattanooga," said Kenneth Chilton, former president and CEO of the center. Chilton was at the center for about two years and left in May 2013.

"Sometimes we angered folks who didn't want any waves to be made, but our work on crime, gangs and education shed light on real community problems. I know our work was used by lots of non-profits, foundations and community organizations to strengthen their own service offerings to respond to community needs."

Now that the center has closed, Chilton said he hopes another organization will continue to do the type of  work that spanned over five decades. 

"Communities need organizations like Ochs to hold leaders feet to the fire," he said. "Hopefully, the university will step up and continue the work of the Ochs Center."

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