published Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Building on Chattanooga: An exercise in weighing our strengths and weaknesses

For seven months, Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke has been focused on what he sees as the major challenges facing the city: crime (especially shootings), education, economic needs and budgeting.

This month, he is quietly broadening the workload with an initiative to tackle six more issues. And he is delegating by appointing six task force committees that will spend the next 12 months on these additional challenges and opportunities: outdoors and sports; entertainment and attractions; technology, high-speed Internet and entrepreneurialism; arts; housing; and the city’s downtown.

Berke calls the initiative “Chattanooga Forward,” and he says it builds on the city’s tradition of public involvement and our past efforts with “visioning” sessions.

But he’s firm in saying this is not just visioning.

“I wanted more practical plans,” he said “I’ve heard around the city that people are ready for action.”

The committees will be comprised of citizens with expertise in the subject they are working on. The members will be from diverse backgrounds, ages, races, neighborhoods and experience. Some will be stakeholders and some will be people who have not felt they were part of the visioning and planning processes in the past.

“We will ask them to take ownership of these ideas and come forward with plans that are realistic, that are sustainable and that will move our community forward,” Berke said last week. “We expect to have these ideas, with bold action steps, by next November.”

The initiative, at its heart, is an effort to identify Chattanooga’s strengths and weaknesses in order to capitalize on the assets and improve the rest.

The mayor ticked off examples.

“If you were a business you would think about what your unique brand is,” he said. “Certainly outdoors and sports is a central component of our identity. We have Ironman [triathlon], U.S. pro-cycling, Head of the Hooch [rowing], River Rocks — wonderful events that bring lots of people to our city. But we also need to connect up Chattanoogans to recreational activities and encourage them to use these resources we have. So I want to see plans, ideas and action steps to continue to improve Chattanooga’s brand while making sure our citizens have the best chance to take advantage of it.

The same is true in a slightly different way of entertainment, he says. Chattanooga is not one of the nation’s many cities with a decaying urban core. We already have some wonderful restaurants, but how do we take the next step in revitalizing our entertainment brand?

Of the technology, Gig and entrepreneurialism panel, the challenge is for task force members to find ways to optimize the city’s resource of super-fast fiber optic Internet connections for a world in which automation and computers will increasingly drive what happens in businesses — and where the workers will contribute primarily through innovation, ideas and creativity.

“Chattanooga Forward helps us put together plans and actions steps to drive our transformation,” Berke said.

The mayor has quietly introduced this plan — no press conferences, just conversations. But the initiative itself is hardly quiet.

If the task force members are half as bold as the intent, Chattanooga should be served well. Come this time next year, it will be a matter of streamlining priorities, finding the larger public consensus and allocating funds.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
aae1049 said...

How coincidental Barack Obama Forward campaign, now the Chattanooga Forward.

Does forward mean, strip the pension fund more to leverage more TIF bond issues?

How did the Obama Forward plan work out, btw?

December 8, 2013 at 7:07 p.m.
Facts said...

I own a business in Chattanooga. I was one of the ones who was promised by Andy Berke's team that he would not be a liberal in office. Andy Berke and his entire campaign is a fraud. He lied, along with his campaign team. And quite a few of us have a long memory and don't have any plans to forget.

December 9, 2013 at 6:12 a.m.
Hunter_Bluff said...

What's your data he's liberal? I haven't seen a lot of anything so far. The lights are still burned out on the Walnut Street Bridge.

December 9, 2013 at 9:37 p.m.
soakya said...

If he's a democratic he supports individual and corporate welfare, if he's a republican he supports individual and corporate welfare. Both oppose individual freedom to retain the power they have accumulated. What more do you need for proof?

December 10, 2013 at 4:03 p.m.
lightkeeper said...

Chattanooga would be a great city if it wasn't cursed by these Anti everything teabaggers. How, especially if your a business owner be against growth The more the city grows, the more of a benefit it is for everybody. Metro is a dirty word even though its a Metropolitan area-county. Foreward is somehow linked to Obama which is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. This mindset is whats leaving Chattanooa-Hamilton County behind other Metropolitan areas and it will never accomplish its goals as long as this ridiculous mindset is allowed by these teabagger individuals. When promoting Chattanooga as being so great, this dark part of Chattanooga is left out. When people get here they are disappointed, ask me how I know, because I meet them and talk to them. They can see just how far behind we are due to the fact we are a city trying to move FORWARD while we have antigrowth teabaggers trying to keep it in the past.

December 11, 2013 at 9:09 a.m.
soakya said...


So you are admitting Chattanooga has been a total failure after 40 years of government driven progressive growth, good we agree. But you believe its failure is caused by a group of 75 people who have been around for 4 years. Who cursed the city before the Tea party or teabaggers as you like to call them became a group?

Government subsidized growth creates debt, just take a look at the financial statements for Hamilton county and TN. What is your role at the Chamber? And what are you a lightkeeper of?

December 11, 2013 at 10:44 a.m.
lightkeeper said...
<p>@soakya...First off, Chattanooga has been a failure because of the lack of Metropolitan driven growth, and no we don't agree. Second, The Teabagger-extreme right mindset has always been around, they just didn't have a name and there is way more than just a group of 75, so stop playing dumb. I don't have to have a role at the Chamber to know you are a hillbilly that knows absolutely nothing about progress. And exactly what do you soak?

December 11, 2013 at 11:44 p.m.
soakya said...

deny all you want, we both agree the past 40 years of progressive policy has been a failure for not only Chattanooga but TN and the US. The only difference is just like Washington you blame those who had nothing to do with implementing those policies and now you believe the very people who created the problems are the ones with the answers. Government is not the answer and neither is the Chamber, they are the problem.

December 12, 2013 at 9:33 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Exactly Soakya, the Dems have run Chattanooga since the commission form of government, and continued into council form of government. The elected decision makers have been a majority Dem Party since I was child growing up here.

Silly little Dems that name call conservatives to insult. The missing element is conservative, and that has got to change.

Just the other day a person complained, oh the Tea Party never supports pensions. The fire and police better wake up and examine the political sources of Dem Leadership in City Gov that has been stripping benefits from workers for 10 years. Hello Littlefield and Berke sure aren't conservatives, and no conservative group would claim. City council same, all Dems for the most part.

That is the problem, we have little Rahm Emanuel running Little Chicago.

December 12, 2013 at 2:37 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.