What makes a neighborhood great?
For some people, it’s having a nice park within walking distance of their home. Other people appreciate the locally-owned shops and restaurants that are unique to their part of town. Almost everyone values the connections that come when their neighborhoods are safe and social interactions are easy.
Building stronger neighborhoods has always been a priority of mine, and I love the hear fresh ideas about how to make it happen. That’s why I was glad to have lunch with a group of neighborhood leaders, advocates, and activists earlier this week where I was able to ask: how can we make all of Chattanooga’s neighborhoods stronger?
People gave me a lot of small ideas that could have a big impact — things like fixing sidewalks, replacing streetlights, and helping with home repairs. I also heard a lot of big ideas that can have an even bigger impact — efforts to renovate and occupy duplexes that are currently sitting vacant, developing strong community benefit agreements with new employers, and expanding the use of accessory dwelling units and other tools to create more housing choices.
Right now, unemployment rates are low, wage growth is high, and Chattanooga is creating jobs at a rate twice as fast as the national economy. Even so, too many people in our city find that these benefits are not felt equally throughout our city. We have a responsibility to make sure that our economic growth helps strengthen every community and every family.
This month, the City of Chattanooga is launching our new Neighborhood Reinvestment Fund, Small Business Corridor loan program, and Affordable Housing Fund so we can support safe, walkable places that invite private investment, bolster small businesses that keep corridors vibrant, and create affordable housing options for more families. Over the next few weeks, you’ll be hearing more from us about each of these strategies and how they will work together to make Chattanooga’s neighborhoods stronger — starting with some work we’re doing in Tacoa Park and Washington Hills next week.
In the meantime, please feel free to reply to this email with a suggestion about what makes your neighborhood feel safe, beautiful, and connected. You can also tag me on Twitter or Instagram with a photo of a great #CHAneighborhood.
Thanks for everything you do to keep our neighborhoods strong.
Mayor Andy Berke
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