Berke, in Boston, shines a light on Chattanooga

* Skip ahead in the video to 30:20 to see Berke speak.

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Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke continued pulling the national spotlight toward the Scenic City on Friday as he served on a panel in Boston to address issues facing urban communities.

And Berke, along with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, said cities have to move forward, even if that means not waiting for stalled federal programs.

The event, "What Works: Boston" is part of a yearlong editorial project by Politico Magazine. And it focused on finding solutions for issues from public safety and transportation to housing and food.

Berke praised Chattanooga's gigabit per second municipal broadband infrastructure, which he called the "fastest, cheapest, most pervasive Internet in the Western Hemisphere." And he said it was important that cities don't create "gated digital communities."

That infrastructure was made possible by an $111 million federal stimulus grant.

And he spoke on how diversity and innovation are driving Chattanooga's economy.

"Nothing will kill your city faster than only having one type of people in it. ... so for us, we are constantly trying to find ways to bring more people -- diverse groups of people -- downtown," Berke said.

photo Andy Berke

Walsh highlighted that people are starting to move back into city cores, creating demand for middle-class housing.

"I don't think we can depend upon the federal government at this point, particularly on the issue of housing. First of all, the federal government is not going deal with middle-class housing; it's only going to deal with low-income housing," Walsh said.

Berke agreed, saying "I think if you talk to any mayor in the country, they are going to tell you we are not going to wait on the federal government to solve our problems."

After the panel, Berke said in a written statement he was glad to bring focus to Chattanooga.

"Chattanooga is full of smart, passionate and driven individuals who work every day to make life better. Moments like What Works in Boston, when the national spotlight shines bright on our efforts, make me proud of the work we've accomplished and excited for the future."

This is far from the first time in recent months that Berke been on the national -- or international stage.

Berke spokeswoman Lacie Stone said Friday that Berke has in recent months had interviews or spoken with publications such as: The Guardian, the New York Times, Brookings Institute, the National Journal, NPR, The Washington Post, CNN, Fox Business News and others.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at, @glbrogdoniv on Twitter or at 423-757-6481.