Mayor Andy Berke kickstarts new 'Chattanooga Forward' initiative
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke says he is looking to get more people involved in deciding the future of the city. Berke has announced a new initiative called 'Chattanooga Forward.' Over the next few weeks the city will be forming several task forces aimed at getting the everyday person involved.
"Chattanooga Forward is about engaging the community and really figuring out what are our next, bold action steps," says Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.
Many already know Chattanooga for its great outdoors, with events like Head of the Hooch, the recent U.S. Pro Cycling Championship and the coming Ironman competition. But Mayor Berke hopes a new outdoors task force will set the bar even higher.
"We want to make sure that Chattanoogans are connected to outdoors and sports and not just people that are coming here from the outside."
Besides the outdoors, he hopes a downtown team will capitalize on existing progress.
"I know that when I was growing up here, you did not see downtown as a vibrant and energetic place. Now, you really do," says Berke.
Berke says a part of the city's success and growth comes from having the country's fastest internet. He says a technology and entrepreneurship task force can garner ideas on how to take advantage of the invaluable resource.
"We have a tremendous amount of energy on entrepreneurship and the gig. I love to go and see somebody open up a new business," says Berke.
Another task force will focus on housing.
"If we're going to have a great quality of life and make sure that our workforce is here to sustain business, people have to have good places to live."
Earlier this year, Berke's administration budgeted for an affordable housing pilot program. Right now the city is looking at more than 250 pieces of vacant property and partnering with private developers.
"We want to be able to give back to the neighborhood," says developer Bobby Adams. "I think that helping revitalize it, I think it helps people know that they can raise their standards and come up and not have to stay in the rut that they're in."
On top of housing, other task forces will focus on entertainment, to make tourism and the arts even stronger. Berke points to the Southside as a good example.
"I'm really excited to give every Chattanoogan a stake in our future," says Berke.
Mayor Berke says everything is just getting started. He says 'Chattanooga Forward' will be a year-long process. His administration is still appointing chairpersons to each task force. He says city hall will soon release more info on how to get involved with a particular task force. Channel 3 will keep you posted on the progress.