Matt Clark and Callie Lance
How did I come to Chattanooga?
The obvious answer is by car (cheap dad joke). But seriously. Here’s where it all started:
Dyersburg, a small town in West Tennessee, is a city of about 16,000 and it's where my wife grew up. I accepted a great opportunity at a pediatric dental office there out of dental school, but after four years, we decided to move. We wanted a bigger city. The best thing about Dyersburg was a new Chick-Fil-A, and that was great, but my wife and I left every weekend to do something fun in a different city. We never wanted to stay home.
When I had reached a point in my career that I felt proficient enough to venture into the world of practice ownership, I decided to pursue that dream. Because of state licensure, I knew it would be easiest for me to remain in Tennessee.
The obvious choices of cities to relocate to were Memphis or Nashville. My wife and I lived in Memphis for school for seven years between the two of us, and it felt too large. Although we both enjoyed our time there, it didn't feel like home.
Nashville is a fun place to visit, but traffic and housing prices are increasing due to the growth they've seen in recent years. It's also becoming increasingly competitive in my field because so many dentists move there not only from the two state dental schools, but also from out of state schools like University of Louisville, University of Kentucky and Alabama-Birmingham.
We felt that a city of around 150,000 people would give us everything we wanted in terms of convenience, but wouldn't overwhelm us in size. That limited us to Knoxville and Chattanooga. I have family in Knoxville, but neither my wife nor I had ever been to Chattanooga. The only exposure we had to the city was driving through at 5 p.m. on our way to Atlanta. We always said “Chattanooga has bad traffic.” And that was it.
Then, we took an anniversary trip there for a weekend in 2015 and left absolutely loving the city. We spent time driving from Lookout Valley to Ooltewah, Hixson, NorthShore and all over downtown. The size was perfect. Traffic was manageable. After our trip, we waited for an opportunity. I followed the local news pretty closely after that visit. I couldn’t help but feel like a boom was happening in the city. I kept seeing different companies investing and hiring people, and more foreign companies coming to town – it was the complete opposite of where we lived at the time. We both felt Knoxville and Chattanooga seemed similar, on paper, in benefits and as cities, but Chattanooga would see more growth in the coming years. We also like to judge cities we visit based on one seemingly trivial item: grocery stores. We always visit a supermarket in new towns to see how people take care of it. When we came to town, we went to the North Shore Publix. We were happy to see people returning their shopping carts. Always a good indicator.
Fast forward one year and I bought the dental practice of Dr. James Kimball in downtown. I’ve learned so much over the past 2.5 years since buying the office and I have seen huge growth in the city in that short time. At my location on Riverfront Parkway, we’ve seen several new residential areas flourish along with new restaurants in more recent months. I anticipate that over the next five years, the Riverfront Parkway/Riverfront area will continue to see tremendous growth. Not one day have I regretted moving here. It's a great community, a great dental community and moving here has certainly been a blessing.
Dr. Matt Clark,
Clark Dental Studio
So how did I discover Chattanooga? When I attended the University of Cincinnati for my undergraduate degree, I was a collegiate rower. I had the opportunity to compete at the Head of the Hooch in Chattanooga. I fell in love with the city, though I had originally wanted to move to Colorado to open my chiropractic practice. I put the two side by side and did some research. In the end, Chattanooga is a better fit for me due to reasonable cost of living, an entrepreneurial atmosphere and the ease of traveling to and from. Plus with Chattanooga being the home of the Ironman half and full, a plethora of weekend races and water sports galore, a sports chiropractor was much needed to help keep Chattanooga mobile and pain free. It's a perfect fit for me.
Chattanooga, Tennessee is the place for entrepreneurs who love the outdoors. Chattanooga is 574 miles south of my hometown of Medina, Ohio, 467 miles from my chiropractic school (Logan University in Chesterfield, Missouri) and 144 miles from Nashville. So why did I pick Chattanooga when I could have moved anywhere? Because Chattanooga charmed me like no other city ever has. The instant you set foot into downtown, you feel the energy of the city – slightly hipster but driven and passionate. Chattanooga welcomes you with open arms. You instantly feel at home and there are so many different aspects of this growing city. You have the aquarium, rock climbing, amazing restaurants, fantastic breweries, Chattanooga Football Club, Chattanooga Lookouts, plus the phenomenal Riverwalk all at your fingertips, and that's just downtown. With a five or ten minute drive, you can be on a secluded hiking path with picturesque views of the city.