While you may know the Chamber for how we can help your business grow, our amazing events, or our business INCubator, we also play a key role in spreading the good news about Chattanooga (we’re modest too.) Telling Chattanooga’s story outside of the city plays a crucial role in helping our economic development team attract new business and workers to the Gig City. As part of this mission, we recently hosted a group of national journalists to Chattanooga during one of the most exciting times of the year: the third annual Startup Week Chattanooga. The journalists, with interests ranging from urban planning to telecom and technology, arrived in Chattanooga from various locations around the Northeast for a firsthand look at how the Gig has spurred innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Sharing Chattanooga’s successes and assets with a national audience plays a key role in helping us draw new businesses and people to our city,” says Charles Wood, Vice President of Economic Development at the Chamber. “Oftentimes we don’t know we’re in the running for a company relocation or expansion until the process is down to the final few options. Building a strong reputation for our region helps us get on, and stay at, the top of the list for businesses.”
With Startup Week Chattanooga activities, Dynamo’s Demo Day, a boom in downtown development (including new branding in the Innovation District) and an endless number of talented startups, our team was hard-pressed to fit all that Chattanooga has to offer in 48 hours. We decided to start the group off with a meeting at EPB, where learning about the Gig would lay the foundation for everything else they would see during their stay. The group also met with Mayor Andy Berke, toured the Innovation District, the INCubator and had the chance to meet with several Chattanooga startups face-to-face.
Inside the INCubator, the group tested out Variable’s new product Color Muse. Though we aren’t all tech aficionados, we all appreciated when Color Muse perfectly identified the color of a pink cell phone case and found matching furniture on Ikea’s website.
In between (and sometimes during) the non-stop meetings, we managed to fit in some delicious meals for our guests (shout out to Chattanooga Chamber members Niedlov’s Breadworks, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, Milk & Honey and Public House for your help). Our tour included a warp speed trip through the Tennessee Aquarium, where some of our group played Star Trek, strapping on virtual reality goggles and investigating area river fish species. The grand finale? Watching river otters play and saying hello to two different penguin species, the Gentoo and the Macaronis. They dig the high-tech scene – sporting wing bands so keepers can track their health data.
“Chattanooga seems like a particularly high-growth place right now. It has more momentum in drawing businesses and economic growth than I would have guessed for a city of its size,” says Paul Gargagliano, a photographer who attended the trip, on how his perceptions of Chattanooga changed after visiting.
While there’s no guarantee our visitors will write a story about Chattanooga soon, they saw firsthand our passion for encouraging the entrepreneurs who fuel our startup scene.
They said they were impressed and we couldn’t agree more (there’s that modesty showing again.)