Visioneering message: Be aggressive

It’s a terrible football analogy, but the central theme of Thursday’s Visioneering Wichita presentations applies: Chattanooga isn’t building a modern downtown by reading the market and reacting; they’re running a full-scale blitz.

We’ll have more on the theme in Friday’s Eagle, but one fascinating example is partially hidden in a south Chattanooga storefront: Create Here is a one-stop shop melding the arts and business education that’s all about “talent retention,” according to Helen Johnson, one of the founders. It’s goal is to give Chattanooga residents the tools to profit from their creativity, growing the city’s talent base and thus its economic foundation.

Create Here doesn’t have anything that Wichita doesn’t: the arts, business education, community activisim.

But what it does remarkably, as Johnson puts it, is fight the perception that all those functions need to be “siloed,” or segregated as separate community institutions.

“What we do, instead, is encourage people to think across all these disciplines as a platform for community change,” Johnson said.

Create Here won’t be around forever, Johnson said. She has no interest in perpetuating it as an institution. But she intends for its wide-ranging programs, from artist recruitment to business planning classes, to live on.