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Top Cities to Start a Business: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Countless factors influence the success of a new start-up. When starting a business, location can be just as important as the type of service or product being sold. Cities provide different environments to help entrepreneurs and businesses succeed, as well as a range of supports. A state’s business environment including access to skills and business-friendly tax policies also play a major role. The following are just some of the best cities to start a business in the Western United States.

One of the best cities to start a new business is Chattanooga, Tennessee. The city places fourth on WalletHub’s 2015 list of the Best Cities to Start a Business, and ranked second in terms of access to essential resources for start-ups including skills, affordable office space, financing and other business supports. The study used 13 unique metrics that ranged from the average five-year survival rate of businesses and educational attainment of the available labor force to the affordability of office space and access to business financing. Access to high-speed broadband internet, business incubators, educated employees and government incentives helped make Chattanooga one of the best places for start-ups to succeed, according to WalletHub.

Chattanooga is Tennessee’s fourth largest city and is located in the state’s southeast. The city is strategically located close to major economic centers in the U.S South. It is within 120 miles (190 kilometres) of Atlanta and Knoxville, and is also within a day’s drive Nashville and Birmingham, Alabama. Chattanooga also sits close to three major interstates – I-25, I-75 and I-59. The city is the home of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Chattanooga State Community College, and has a diverse economy that includes manufacturing and service industries. Several major companies have a presence in and around Chattanooga, including, DuPont, BASF, Norfolk Southern, Coca-Cola, and Volkswagen.

The city has been gaining acclaim for how it is providing best practices in cleaning air pollution, revitalization its downtown, and offering affordable housing. The city is home to a free electric shuttle service that carries one million riders a year, and the city’s waterfront has been transformed with new green and public spaces. For businesses, one of Chattanooga’s main advantages is EPB’s fiber optic grid. This has helped support start-ups, which have an increasing presence in the city. Formerly known as the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, EPB was the first company in the country to offer 1 gigabit per second high-speed internet. The provider’s 100-percent fiber-optic network allows EPB to offer affordable and fast internet to new businesses. EPB also has a smart grid with a next-generation electric system with communication capabilities that help reduce power outages and improve response times.

Chattanooga is also served by several incubators that serve new and growing businesses. The Hamilton County Business Development Center (BDC) is one of the largest incubators in the United States in terms of square footage and the number of startups it supports. With 127,000 square feet, the BDC is the largest business incubator in the state of Tennessee and the third largest in the United States. More than 70 start-ups employ some 400 people, and the incubator has served more than 500 small businesses into the community. Launched in 2010, The Company Lab or CO.LAB offers a 14-week entrepreneur accelerator program that focuses on using the city’s 1 gigabit per second internet grid. Meanwhile, The Lamp Post Group is a venture incubator that provides capital and mentorship to growing start-ups. This includes a range of support services such as legal, accounting, recruiting and human resources support as well as downtown office space. There are also several leading co-working spaces in the downtown area such as Society of Work and Chattanooga Workspace, and the business accelerator Gigtank leverages the excellent broadband infrastructure to support start-ups focused on 3D printing, healthcare, and smart grid technologies.

A livable city with a full range of services for starting a business makes Chattanooga a supportive environment for start-ups. From world class smart grid and broadband technology to leading business incubators, the city offers a lot for entrepreneurs and new businesses looking to start out or expand their operations.

(1) WalletHub, ‘2015’s Best Cities to Start a Business’,
(2) Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, ‘About Chattanooga’,
(3) Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, ‘Why Chattanooga’,
(4) Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, ‘INCubator at The Hamilton County Business Development Center: About Us’,

Other Sources:
The Company Lab (CO.LAB),
Lamp Post Group,


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