This recent headline from Fortune Magazine caught my eye–it’s pretty easy to see why: “One of America’s Most Startup-Friendly Cities Is in Tennessee”
This kind of recognition for Chattanooga has become common over the last several years (see here and here). That said, I believe it is critical that we never take this kind of praise for granted. We don’t want to simply be the “it” city of the moment, we want to build sustainable success in Chattanooga.
I think we are poised to do just that–as long as we understand how we got to this point and what we need to be mindful of going forward.
Here is a key quote from the Times-Free Press’ coverage of the Fortune article that, to me, perfectly encapsulates our unique brand of success:
“…Chattanooga’s low cost of living and ultra-fast internet service is helping tech startups. Chattanooga also is benefiting from some of its long term advantages, including its scenic and outdoor attractions, central location and diverse economy, and more recently developed venture capital and accelerator programs.”
In my view there are two additional supporting factors that are critical to our success: (1) Tennessee’s lack of a state income tax, and (2) the efforts currently underway to train and educate a workforce that can serve the needs of the new businesses. When you mix all of these elements together with Chattanooga’s history of public-private cooperation it is an unbeatable concoction of 21st century economic strength.
The key is, as they point out in the Fortune article, is to focus on these core elements–the rest of our economy will thrive as a byproduct of that focus.