New Chattanooga Forward Report Recommends Ways To Grow Local Economy, Tackle Digital Divide

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke’s office released the first of several Chattanooga Forward recommendation reports on Thursday. The report, from the Technology, Gig, & Entrepreneur task force, was the culmination of several months of focus on how to capitalize on the technological assets of Chattanooga.

“Over the last four years, Chattanooga has attracted interest from around the world due to our high speed fiber optic infrastructure. The fact is, we have the fastest, most pervasive, and least expensive Gigabit service in the Western Hemisphere. This positions Chattanooga at the head of the curve - and ready to be a leader in the innovation century,” said Mayor Andy Berke.  “Our job now is to take these incredible assets and utilize them to grow our talent pool, attract capital investors, bridge the digital divide, and provide platforms for small businesses to succeed.”

The Tech, Gig, & Entrepreneur report combines the previous work on utilizing the gig with more recent recommendations on how to grow the city’s innovation economy and bridge the digital divide.

“We reviewed accomplishments and lessons learned over the last several years to develop a work plan that we believe will strategically position Chattanooga for the future,” said Task Force chair Sidney Crisp. “This was a collaborative effort and I am extremely encouraged to know that Mayor Berke is taking this initiative seriously. I look forward to seeing some of these recommendations become a reality.”

A key recommendation from the task force is the creation of an entity to implement the task force’s work plan on a daily basis. The report outlines that a newly created entity should explore creative strategies like “co-location of capital, business support, housing, and research to spur innovation” as well as support digital inclusion initiatives.

The Chattanooga Forward initiative kicked off last year with the creation of six task forces that were charged to thoroughly investigate a multifaceted topic and create action plans to be presented to Mayor Berke for consideration.

To learn more about the Chattanooga Forward initiative, visit: http://www.chattanooga.gov/mayors-office/chattanooga-forward


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