UPDATE: Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke announced his new initiatives during the State of the City address.

Berke says his priorities are safer, stronger neighborhoods and smarter students.

Mayor Berke opened his speech by saying Chattanooga is a city of creators. He says creators are the people who are moving the city forward and they are the reason the city is strong.

Mayor Berke announced four new initiatives for the city.

To create safer streets and stronger neighborhoods, Berke says the mayor's office will create a council against hate-speech and extremism.

“The council will be appointed to take a look at these problems to see what concrete actions that we can take,” says Mayor Berke.

This committee will work closely with law enforcement and provide support to communities.

Another Berke initiative is to foster smarter students by improving early education. This program invests in teacher training and professional development.

“If you start up the hundred yard dash 20 yards behind, you’re unlikely to win,” Berke says. “So what we want to do is help more kids start at the same place.”

Berke's other priority is further development of the innovation district.

More than a billion dollars of new development is already underway in the downtown area, and the challenge is to keep the momentum going.

“We are going to use city resources particularly the lots and buildings that we have that are identified in a plan to expand the innovation district,” Berke says.

More people are coming here to work resulting in housing that is more expensive. Berke says he will request $1-million from the city in 2019 to be used to create affordable housing.

“If your income isn't rising you are further behind,” Berke says. “We need to create some affordable units so that we can continue to connect opportunity and people.”

The mayor says he hopes to include these priorities in next year's budget, which he is expected to present next month.


ORIGINAL STORY: In the past year, the city has awarded more than $27,000 to small businesses through the "growing small businesses" program.

Thursday night, Mayor Berke is expected to announce new initiatives during his State of the City address.

A spokesperson tells us it will include ways to provide more support to growing neighborhood-based businesses.

This time last year, Berke said during his second inauguration -- he wants Chattanooga to build upon its successes, including more jobs and higher wages, a tech-savvy innovation district, tourism development and manufacturing growth.

In a video posted to Twitter, Berke said Chattanooga is a city of creators. "If you think about it we are stronger than ever, we're creating safer streets, smarter students and stronger neighborhoods and a thriving economy."

The state of the city event, is happening Thursday night the Westin Chattanooga at 5:30 p.m. If you would like to attend the address, the mayor's office asks that you RSVP.