Business Hubs

Clean break— Chattanooga


This Tennessee city used to be known for its smog and stench. However, Chattanooga has cleaned up its act, establishing itself as an emerging technology hub and the home of Volkswagen’s only US factory. How did that happen?

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Chattanooga used to be the kind of town that passing motorists avoided. A pall of orange and grey pollutants hung in the air, spewed by factories that dumped waste into a stretch of the Tennessee River skirting the centre. It was perhaps no surprise when, in a 1969 broadcast still legendary in Chattanooga, journalist Walter Cronkite announced that it was the dirtiest city in America.

Today the scrofulous industrial base in this city of 170,000 has become green and hi-tech; firms large and small occupy its converted brick factories and warehouses…

Reasons to set up shop: Chattanooga

It’s quick and easy
It can take as little as 30 minutes and costs $30 (€22) to get a basic licence to run a business here; entrepreneurs simply have to visit two downtown offices a few blocks apart.

City Hall wants you
Technology whizzes can receive $11,250 (€8,300) of incentives if they move to the area. Once they are up and running, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center provides free consultations and the Chamber of Commerce offers competitively priced office and manufacturing space.

You can make your presence felt
Chattanooga’s population of nearly 170,000 is small enough for incoming businesses to make an impact. “We can nudge everything towards excellence,” says Jack Studer of venture firm Lamp Post Group.

Nature calls
The city boasts 10,000 acres of parkland and 30 miles of trails and greenways. Bike on Lookout Mountain, hike through Civil War battlefields or paddle down the Tennessee River.

Artistic licence
There are over 100 permanent artworks around the city to inspire you.


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