After being one of the first people to welcome President Barack Obama to Chattanooga, Mayor Andy Berke described his ride from the airport to the Amazon fulfillment center in the presidential limousine, known as “the beast.”

“No big deal,” Berke joked.

But although the ride may have been brief, Berke said the face time with the president was invaluable for the city. Berke said that during their transit from the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport to Amazon, he shared stories of the city’s success with Obama.

“The opportunity to spend a few minutes with the president of the United States comes only once in a lifetime,” Berke said. “I certainly wanted to make sure that I portrayed Chattanooga in the best possible light because I think the president was genuinely curious about what we’re doing here. It was a fantastic opportunity.”


Berke said he and the president discussed items such as the city’s record Internet speeds, efforts to reform education in the state and Chattanooga in general.

Before meeting the president, Berke wrote an op-ed reflecting on Obama’s visit to the city.

Along with Berke, several local officials attended Obama’s speech Tuesday. Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and six of nine Hamilton County commissioners were in attendance, along with all nine members of Chattanooga City Council.