Berke: Chattanooga's big businesses need to do more in startup scene

Berke: Chattanooga's big businesses need to do more in startup scene

May 23rd, 2014 by Shelly Bradbury in Local - Breaking News

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke

Photo by Staff File Photo/Times Free Press.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke believes the city's big businesses aren't doing enough to support the city's startup scene, he said at a roundtable discussion Friday.

"We need to get our existing business leaders more involved," he told a group of local civic and business leaders during the hour-and-a-half meeting.

Chattanooga's startups need validation from the city's larger, established businesses to get products on the market, agreed entrepreneur Sheldon Grizzle.

"We've had local entrepreneurs with phenomenal ideas having great success and they've had to go outside of Chattanooga to find their first customers, or somebody to beta test what they're doing," he said. "And that's embarrassing. We have to get our bigger businesses in the mentality that just because it's from Chattanooga ... doesn't mean it's not a legitimate product."

Berke suggested that his proposed "innovation district," a place he hopes will serve as a geographic hub for the city's young entrepreneurs to live, work and create, could help bridge the gap between the city's established businesses and the city's startups.

For more on this story, read Saturday's Times Free Press.