The city's Enterprise Center will be receiving $3.5 million in federal funds, Mayor Bob Corker and Congressman Zach Wamp announced at a Friday morning press conference at City Hall.
The funds will support two initiatives being pursued by the Enterprise Center, the Connect the Valley initiative and funding that will assist the city in creating a pilot fuel cell project in Chattanooga.
Mayor Corker praised Rep. Wamp "for his advocacy on behalf of the community and thanked him for his leadership in helping bring resources to the city that will allow its citizens to take full advantage of their proximity to the premier federal research assets that surround them."
Connect the Valley
During the Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit, Mayor Corker outlined his vision for "Connecting the Valley." The effort is designed to make it easier for the region take advantage of the premier research facilities that are located throughout the Tennessee Valley (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Marshall Space Center, the Red Stone Army Arsenal, Arnold Engineering and the UT Space Institute).
Through Connect the Valley, the city "is working to create tools that will help regional businesses transfer the technology being created in the Tennessee Valley Corridor to the private sector so that this becomes the place where that technology enters the market place, resulting in new jobs and a higher standard of living for all citizens."
In October, Mayor Corker announced that the City and UTC had engaged Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to complete a feasibility study on ways Chattanooga could enjoy more market-driven applications from national regional centers.
The Hydrogen Fuel Cell project
One of the specific ways the Connect the Valley initiative will facilitate more technology transfer in the region is by providing support for pre-market testing and field demonstration of new technologies, especially those that address issues of national importance.
An immediate focus for the Connect the Valley Initiative will be to facilitate the development of field tests of new fuel cell technologies with West Coast companies. Working with Dr. Harry McDonald of UTC's SimCenter, the city has already developed significant relationships with various companies engaged in this research on the West Coast, it was stated.
Congressman Wamp announced that he has secured substantial funding which will enable Chattanooga to pursue the development of a partnership with one or more of these companies to conduct the first field tests of new stationary fuel cell technologies in Chattanooga.
This pilot project "will create a powerful opportunity for Chattanooga to take a national leadership role in the demonstration and application of the cutting edge technology in fuel cell development that is significant to energy security for the whole country," it was stated.
In addition, Chattanooga will seek manufacturing rights for the products it supports through its pilot tests when these products are eventually commercialized (as soon as 2-4 years), "creating great potential for job creation for the community." Mayor Corker said.
This pilot project also provides the opportunity for UTC to be the only University involved in this highly visible demonstration project, he added.
The funding for both of these Connect the Valley initiatives will be allocated to The Enterprise Center specifically for the support of these projects.