Chattanooga, America's Next High-Tech Hub?
This article is part of a weeklong America 360 series on Chattanooga.
The mayor of Chattanooga wants his city to become the technology hub of the Southeast—even if that's not the image most Americans would assign to this mid-sized city along the Tennessee River. But surprisingly, Chattanooga boasts some of the fastest Internet speeds in the country. Volkswagen and Amazon opened plants or warehouses here in the past three years, and several small, quirky companies such as Pure Sodaworks, Variable, and Supply Hog have sprung to life, all started by locals.
For Mayor Andy Berke, all of this serves as evidence that Chattanooga can and will recast itself as a home for innovative companies: a place for residents who think beyond the confines of a 9-to-5 job. (The 45-year-old mayor, who's been in office for just over 100 days, even appointed the city's first innovation officer.)
National Journal sat down with Berke to talk about Chattanooga's manufacturing past and its future economy, as well as President Obama's recent visit to a local Amazon warehouse, where he touted the creation of middle-class jobs. Edited excerpts follow.
I keep hearing from residents and economic-development officials here that Chattanooga is the next tech hub, like a mini-Silicon Valley or Boston.