Mayor Berke Visits UTC, Talks Tech And Future Of Chattanooga

Friday, November 22, 2013

When Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke was invited by the UTC chapter of Sigma Xi to discuss technology and the future of Chattanooga, he was inspired by the scientific research society’s motto.

Andy Berke at UTC 017“The motto of Sigma Xi is companions in zealous research. And I thought, how fantastic is that line?” said Mayor Berke. “It says a lot about what is going on here and what we can do with it. UTC is an important part of our community. If we’re going to get better at driving innovation, incorporating our technology, at making sure we have the entrepreneurship that will lift everybody up in the community, we have to be companions in zealous research. I look forward to doing that with you.”

Education at all levels benefits from technology, and technology is fueling business in Chattanooga. Chattanooga is the first city to offer one-gigabit-per-second fiber Internet service to residents and businesses alike. That’s the fastest Internet speed available in the Western Hemisphere.

“The great thing about technology, about where we are in our city, is that this is a place where we can say we’re first," said Mayor Berke.  "This makes a real difference both in terms of our capacity and what we can do but also in the way that we think about ourselves, being at the forefront of a particular way of doing things.” 

Chattanooga’s Internet speed, natural beauty, and thriving community all contribute to the city becoming a hub for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“People from around the country are coming to Chattanooga to say, ‘What’s going on here and how can we be more like you?’ That’s a fantastic opportunity. We have to translate this opportunity into success. The best way to do that is through entrepreneurship,” said Mayor Berke.

Chattanooga has several programs designed to spur entrepreneurship, and UTC students are frequent participants in these programs. 

“You tie particular areas to entrepreneurship to universities to things in the community and try to create energy and buzz and ideas that lead to things that are unknown," said Mayor Berke.  "When it comes to innovation, it’s very difficult to predict how things are going to happen. What we can do, especially in government, is to try to create the conditions where private industry and the University and others help these great ideas come to the top."

GIGTANK is a business accelerator that aims to foster startups that use Chattanooga’s gigabit-per-second Internet speed. It connects entrepreneurs with tools, capital, contacts, and customers to help bring their ideas to life. 

GIGTANK accepts 10 startups for the summer long program. All participants share workspace in the heart of downtown Chattanooga and, in partnership with The University of Tennessee Chattanooga, have access to housing throughout the summer. GIGTANK is driven by mentors to help startups produce new products using Chattanooga’s high speed internet, with the hope that these entrepreneurs will remain in Chattanooga.

The conclusion of GIGTANK is a Demo Day and Roadshow, where startups present to investors, strategic corporate partners, media and other influencers in Chattanooga and around the U.S. In 2012, Demo Day had over 500 in attendance. Top performing teams will be taken on a cross-country investment tour as well, including Silicon Valley and New York City. 

“The gig, and our technology, is really driving entrepreneurship," said Mayor Berke.  "We have to take advantage of this. There are great ways that we have to incorporate UTC into this process. UTC is really an important part of what we do here in education. It has to be the best of the best we can make it for the future of our city.”

Before he became mayor on March 5, Mayor Berke was elected to the State Senate in 2007 and was reelected to a second term in 2008. He worked on key legislation including First to the Top and Complete College Tennessee and he served on the Senate Education Committee. In 2012, he was honored by the Tennessee PTA as the Legislator of the Year and he earned the Tennessee Education Association’s Friend of Education Award for his commitment to improving public education across Tennessee.

“We have to be more seamless with UTC as a city," said Mayor Berke.  "We have a great opportunity with the new Chancellor to build that up more and to find new ideas, but also other ways to say UTC can be more of the fabric of the business portion of our community, to bring UTC students downtown, and to create the connections that are important.”

Mayor Berke has been a long-time supporter of UTC, where research in technology is ongoing and campus entrepreneurs are finding ways to tap into Chattanooga’s technological success. Student success is a top goal for the University and the Chattanooga mayor.

“UTC presents a great opportunity and we want the best for UTC," Mayor Berke added.  "It’s really important that you all see Chattanooga as a place for entrepreneurship and a place that has that zealous research opportunity."


GNTC Announces 2015 GOAL Nominees

Eighteen Georgia Northwestern Technical College students have been selected as the college’s nominees for the 2015 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership, according to Dione Waddington, coordinator for the college’s GOAL program. The nominees were announced at a reception held at GNTC’s Gordon County Campus. Each nominee was presented with a certificate and an orientation ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Residents Graduate With Honors From MTSU

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee sat down with several students, including three Hamilton County residents, to discuss their plans after their Dec. 13 graduation with honors from the university. Carly Duffy and Jalisa Jones, both of Chattanooga, and Kaitlin Pitre of Soddy-Daisy were three of the students recognized at commencement as cum laude (with honors), magna cum laude ... (click for more)

Erlanger To Proceed With Manager Bonuses In 2 Steps; Considering Employee Performance Incentive Plan

Erlanger President and CEO Kevin Spiegel said Wednesday night that the hospital plans to proceed with $1.7 million in manager bonuses in two steps. Current participants in the incentive program will receive 50 percent of the approved 2014 performance plan this month. The remaining 50 percent will be paid to the management group in July 2015. At the same time, Mr. Spiegel ... (click for more)

Caldwell Arrested In Rapes Of 2 Women Over 60 In Brainerd, Hixson

Investigators have made an arrest in the rape cases that were reported last weekend. Taken into custody was Derrick Dewayne Caldwell, 30. He is charged with two counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated burglary. Police said two women over 60 years old were raped in Brainerd and in Hixson in separate incidents. (click for more)

A Letter To The NAACP

I believe when a "unarmed" man is evil, he will try to beat a police officer on his head in hopes to knock him out, in hopes to kill him. We saw the bruises on the officer's face.  This evil force tried to take his gun away from him , Proof was in the autopsy.  Why did Michael Brown  try to take his gun away from him? Exactly, to kill the officer.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Last Day Of School

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story first appeared in the Chattanooga News-Free Press in the early 1980s and every year since then I have been asked repeatedly about it. It is easily the most famous story I have ever written – copies have been sent to me from numerous foreign countries -- and it may be the easiest story I ever wrote. All I did was write what the noted religious psychologist ... (click for more)