Berke to tackle economic development, veteran homelessness and parenting in second year in office

Berke to tackle economic development, veteran homelessness and parenting in second year in office

April 21st, 2014 by Louie Brogdon in Local - Breaking News

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Document: State of the City

State of the City report

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is proud of his first year in office, but he's got no time to dwell on the past while forging into year two.

During his first State of the City address Monday at The Chattanoogan, Berke said he wants to continue building on the city's focus on public safety, youth reading skills and economic development. He highlighted accomplishments, including implementing the first stages of the new Violence Reduction Initiative to curb violent crime; getting police officers across-the-board pay raises; purchasing the former Harriet Tubman housing site for economic development; transforming city recreation centers into youth development centers with an emphasis on literacy and learning; overhauling City Hall department leadership; and reforming the fire and police pension fund.

"We have done more than one year's worth of work in 365 days. And over the next year, it will only get better," Berke said in prepared remarks.

But Berke also has ambitious plans in his second year.

He wants to set up an Innovation District to nurture new companies and entrepreneurs. To help small companies expand, he proposes a Growing Small Businesses initiative.

Berke acknowledged the problem of veteran homelessness, and pledged to end chronic veteran homelessness in Chattanooga by December 2016.

And to help parents be the best role models they can be, Berke wants to start a baby college to tutor expectant parents about how to keep their infants healthy.

Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.