Chattanooga designates downtown innovation district

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Enterprise Center recently revealed plans to establish the Chattanooga Innovation District, a 140-acre area in the city’s urban core conceived as an ideal environment for startup companies, technology and an innovation economy.

Chattanooga will be the first mid-sized city in the nation to establish an innovation district, a move that has proved to be successful in larger cities across the nation.

The Enterprise Center is a partnership of local officials and Chattanooga businesses focused on guiding community efforts related to the city’s “gig” economy. In May 2014, we reported on Chattanooga’s “Gig City” campaign to promote the city’s broadband network, reputed to be the fastest fiber optic network in the Western Hemisphere.

According to The Enterprise Center, “the Chattanooga Innovation District will include a catalytic mix of startup businesses, business incubators and accelerators alongside other innovation economy generators and amenities available in a dense, walkable urban core.”

Reporting on the new initiative, The Chatanoogan quoted Bruce Katz, founding director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of  “The Metropolitan Revolution,” saying that innovation districts are emerging in cities throughout the United States and Europe as key drivers of economic activity, job creation, and inclusive growth.  He said Chattanooga is taking impressive steps towards catalyzing this new form of development.

In addition to workspace, participants in innovation districts benefit from other assets in the districts such as pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and public transportation. The Chattanooga Innovation District includes many of the city’s downtown public spaces such as Miller Park and Miller Plaza.

Some of the assets within the Chattanooga Innovation District include the public library, EPB, Coyote Logistics in Warehouse Row, the Lamp Post Group, a business incubaor, Society of Work, a co- working space Causeway,  a resource hub for a variety of civic causes, the Public Education Foundation, a community-based organization that provides resources to schools, and the new home of Arts Build, a private, nonprofit arts fund and arts council.

Other buildings in the area are being repurposed, including 17,000 square feet of the James A. Mapp building on Martin Luther King Boulevard owned by University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and SwiftWing Venture’s Fleetwood Building. Fidelity Trust and their buildings on 7th and Cherry Streets are also being renovated.

County Mayor Jim Coppinger pointed to the success of Chattanooga’s Enterprise South in helping to attract  and Volkswagon.

The Enterprise Center issued a request for proposals for the Edney building, which will anchor the Innovation District and house the Chattanooga Innovation Center. The 90,000-square-foot, 10-story building sits at the corner of Market and 11th Streets.

Source: The Chattanoogan


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Jeannie Oliver

Jeannie Oliver is a writer and PR practitioner with a long string of awards behind her name. With a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma, Jeannie has worked as a high school journalism teacher, an editor for the Appaloosa Journal, and a media spokesperson for...