The second floor of what once was Chattanooga’s first department store would be unrecognizable to the late David Loveman, who began building the ornate Market Street landmark in 1885.
The morning commute in those days required equestrian skills, and Alexander Graham Bell had applied for a telephone patent only a decade prior.
Now 126 years later, fresh college graduates work late into the night on Loveman’s second floor, poring over a mismatched array of computer monitors as they create what could be the next Twitter, the next Amazon or something completely new.
The remains of the department store’s ornate furnishings are steadily giving way to sharp colors, glass-encased offices and belt-high cubicles.
That visual evolution is part of an attempt to restart Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial spirit, say the founders of the newly minted Lamp Post Group, who are themselves successful Chattanooga entrepreneurs.
The business plan is an unusual one: Founders give advice, space, capital and office resources to entrepreneurs with ideas that are “scalable,” or have the ability to grow explosively and profitably.
In the past eight months, Lamp Post has launched a half dozen companies, and organizers are looking for more new deals every day.
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