According to Livability.com, Chattanooga is one of the top 100 places to live in the US, and also was included in their “Top 10 Downtowns” list. Chattanooga is a great city for a myriad of reasons, some being affordability, beautiful scenery, outdoor activities and work-life balance, having the largest citywide gigabit-speed internet, and a growing job market and quality of life amenities.
Outside Magazine even called Chattanooga Best Town Ever in 2015, due to all of the awesome things you can do, such as rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, boating, fishing, white water rafting, hang gliding, and spelunking!
Is it any surprise that Chattanooga is also a great place to be an entrepreneur and start a business?
According to many sources, Chattanooga is the next Silicon Valley, offering a beautiful downtown area, a startup scene that is on the rise, a haven for female-owned businesses, and lower startup costs than many big cities.
Swaay Media says that Chattanooga is the next Silicon Valley, because they say that while Silicon Valley in California is crowded, expensive, and filled with some gender bias, Chattanooga offers less competition and easier ways to raise startup capital, and the cost of living is significantly cheaper than other startup hubs, and there’s no income tax.
“Chattanooga was an entrepreneurial wasteland seven years ago,” said Charlie Brock, president and CEO of Launch Tennessee, a public-private partnership that supports development of high-growth companies in the state. “It’s been a wonderful confluence of events, activities and people that have come together to make this one of the best places to start and grow a business.”
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as from resources such as Indeed.com and Thumbtack, WalletHub divided their research into 2 categories: “access to resources” and “general business environment.” Chattanooga ranked second for access to resources, including access to financing, office space affordability, employee availability, and median annual income.
The University of Chattanooga business school does offer Entrepreneurship as both a major and minor for its bachelor’s degree, and Chattanooga isn’t the only Tennessee city to be on the list of great places to build a business. Memphis and Nashville are both on the list, too!
WalletHub has also ranked Chattanooga as the Number 2 city for female-owned businesses, a huge boon to our beautiful city! We ranked high in the support of female-owned businesses by the Small Business Administration and other incubators, and Number 2 in overall business friendliness, trailing only Nashville as the best city for women businesses!
Chattanooga has certainly benefitted from having Tennessee’s biggest business incubator and many programs designed to help small businesses, including The Company Lab, an accelerator program, which ended up being used as a statewide model for other accelerators in Tennessee.
The Company Lab, aka CO.LAB, is a nonprofit startup accelerator that supports entrepreneurial growth from the Innovation District in Chattanooga. Lamp Post Group is a venture incubator that invests in and provides mentorship to startups, and they have proudly taken up residence in downtown Chattanooga.
Then there is INCubator, a program put on by the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, that is a 127,000 square foot space of startup support on Chattanooga’s NorthShore. It is the largest business incubator in the state of Tennessee, and the third largest in the United States, and is made up of about 50 startups. Located in the Hamilton County Business Development Center (BDC) in downtown Chattanooga, they help entrepreneurs with a 3-year development program, they provide administrative services, manufacturing and office space, training workshops, use of their conference center, and onsite business counseling. Here at CWD, we a part of this amazing program!
With all of these resources and amazing new businesses, along with the affordability and the beauty of living at the base of Lookout Mountain and on the Tennessee River, there are a lot of reasons to live in and love Chattanooga. Being especially great for startups and growing your business is just one of many!