The Enterprise Center on Tuesday announced the establishment of the Chattanooga Innovation District, calling it part of an "ongoing effort to solidify Chattanooga’s growing standing as an ideal city for startup companies, technology and the next generation 'innovation economy.' ”
Officials said, "Though Chattanooga’s will be the first innovation district established in a mid-sized city, larger cities across the country and the globe such as Boston, Washington D.C.
and Barcelona already enjoy the community benefits that come from designing spaces specifically for workers and companies in the new innovation economy."
“Chattanooga’s Innovation District will bring jobs, talent, and capital to our city” said Mayor Andy Berke. “Coupled with the fastest Internet in the Western Hemisphere, our Innovation District will strengthen our place as leaders in the 21st century economy.”
Much like those in larger cities, 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.
“Innovation districts are emerging in cities throughout the United States and Europe as key drivers of economic activity, job creation, and inclusive growth. Chattanooga is taking impressive steps towards catalyzing this new form of development, building on its distinctive position as America’s ‘Gig City’,” said Bruce Katz, founding director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of The Metropolitan Revolution.
In addition to workspace, innovation districts benefit from easy access to other assets enjoyed by those working in the districts including coffee shops, pubs, restaurants, and multimodal transportation - all of which are accessible in Chattanooga’s newly designated district within City Center.
In the heart of downtown’s City Center, the 140-acre Chattanooga Innovation District is approximately a quarter mile walk radius from the intersection of M.L. King Blvd. and Georgia Avenue and includes many of Chattanooga’s main downtown public spaces such as Miller Park and Miller Plaza.
Some of the organizations within the Chattanooga Innovation District footprint include EPB, the Public Library, Lamp Post Group, Coyote Logistics in Warehouse Row, Causeway, Society of Work, the Public Education Foundation and the new home of Arts Build.
Additional buildings within the footprint are in the process of being repurposed for the knowledge economy, including 17,000 square feet of the James A. Mapp building on MLK owned by UTC, the Fleetwood Building on 11th Street owned by SwiftWing Ventures, Fidelity Trust and their buildings on 7th and Cherry Streets.
“It’s easy to see what an important role the development of Enterprise South played in helping attract VW and the jobs it brought to Hamilton County”, said County Mayor Jim Coppinger. “The establishment of a physical space ideally suited for innovation economy businesses and workers will be a benefit to the community as a whole.”
Anchoring the Innovation District will be the Chattanooga Innovation Center: The Edney Building. The 90,000 square foot, 10-story building sits at the corner of Market and 11th Streets and will serve as a connecting point, support base and catalyst for the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Due to its strategic location, it will benefit from proximity to other crucial physical, economic and social assets required to attract and support technology-based entrepreneurs and help them grow their companies, thus spinning off benefits for the community as a whole, officials said.
“The establishment of an Innovation District will help take not only the City Center but also Chattanooga as a whole to the next level,” said Matt McGauley, president of Fidelity Trust Company. “In part to the creation of the Innovation District, we’re currently investing millions in the City Center developing built environments that will help companies attract, cultivate and retain the best and most creative talent.”
The Enterprise Center issued a Request for Proposals to private developers for the Edney building on Monday.
For more information about the Innovation District, visit CHAinnovate.com.