CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WDEF) -- The visit by President Obama this week raised the question: Is Chattanooga finally getting the attention it deserves for changing into a progressive southern city?
It's a work in progress, according to long time city leaders.
But industrial strength brought by Volkswagen, Alstom and Gestamp is now being balanced by information technology.
Chattanooga has come a long way from the designation of the dirtiest city in the south in the 60's, to the home of LEED certified construction.
You wonder, is Chattanooga changing the image of itself, or of southern cities in general.
This not, after all, a Nashville or Atlanta.
Self described "geeks" and "nerds" may hold the answer.
MIKE BRADSHAW, CO-DIRECTOR, THE COMPANY LAB "I've never seen any place like it. I've been around the country, I've started businesses in Washington, D.C., in Boston and San Francisco. I've never seen a community like this where it so welcoming of a start-up. You hear the word entrepreneurial ecosystem..here it has real meaning."
DANIEL RYAN, TECHNOLOGIST, THE GIG TANK PROGRAM "There's always companies springing up, and everyone's talking about it. You know its technology, its arts and education, its health care..everything is coming together here, which is fascinating" .
The US-Ignite Board is coming to Chattanooga next week for a meeting. Its part of the public-private partnership of the National Science Foundation.
The keynote speaker will be Bob Metcalfe, known as the granddaddy of the internet.
KEN HAYS, KPH DEVELOPMENT "These people are coming to Chattanooga because we've got a lot of great thing going on..you know , they are not being paid to come. They are coming here to sort of check us out..and to talk about the future, because I think the future is Chattanooga."
Leaders of the Information technology revolution says there is very little micro-managing here.
MIKE BRADSHAW "Here, its more supportive. Go out and make a mistake, you know, if you're successful that's wonderful..we'll all be a part of that ..But we don't need to own it..we don't need to control it, we don't need to direct it...its unbelievably powerful how much that means to a startup..to be in a community like that."
And the doors are open to all.
DR. DAVID BANKS, INTERIM DIR. BETHLEHEM CENTER "We have a program called "the launch" at the Bethlehem Center where entrepreneurial initiatives...so, I think African Americans..I think this is the time we can really look at opportunities."
Things really are different on Chattanooga---and the 21st century thinking is just beginning.