Big praise for Chattanooga

Big praise for Chattanooga

February 6th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

Magazines, TV shows, websites and other media often praise some aspect of life in beautiful Chattanooga and the surrounding area. So the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau recently compiled a list of some of the accolades.

Area residents have always known that Chattanooga is special in a lot of ways -- from its friendly people to its natural beauty to its wonderfully developed riverfront to its amazing economic development. But it was astonishing nonetheless to see the breadth of acclaim that the city has enjoyed the past few years.

Here are just a few of the praises that the visitors bureau compiled on our very livable city:

* Chattanooga is "one of the most family friendly, outdoorsy spots in the South," wrote Southern Living magazine. It called Chattanooga "the great little city that could" and said its eye-catching transformation has been "nothing short of phenomenal."

* The Washington Post declared Chattanooga "well on its way to becoming one of America's best mid-sized towns."

* On CBS's "The Early Show," Chattanooga was praised for its local markets and its welcome atmosphere for bicyclists.

* USA Today said Chattanooga has been "reborn as the Scenic City."

* Atlantic Southeast magazine lauded Chattanooga for the cooperative spirit of its residents.

* US News & World Report said Chattanooga is one of six cities worldwide "that work at creating great urban experiences."

* Chattanooga is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in America, according to Bicycling magazine.

* National Geographic Adventure magazine hailed Chattanooga as one of the "Best Adventure Towns in the U.S."

There have been lots of other honors and praises for our city, too. But this sampling gives you an idea of how positively Chattanooga is viewed around the country.

That does not mean, of course, that the city can go on "autopilot" and assume that further progress will just happen. It took a lot of work to get where we are. It will take more to keep moving forward.

There are serious challenges in local public education, for instance, with far too many young people dropping out of school or being ill-prepared for college, the military or the work force even if they do graduate. We obviously want our children to be able to fill the highly skilled jobs that we seek to attract. That means parents, teachers, students and schools officials have to pull out the stops to ensure that each student has a shot at an excellent education. Greater school choice -- whether through vouchers or charter schools -- should be a component of that effort.

There are other challenges as well, so this is clearly no time to be resting on our laurels.

Still, it is appropriate from time to time to step back and look with pride at how far Chattanooga has come -- then to set about taking the city even further.