TOP TECH CITIES: Chattanooga

By Leigh Jackson Harper, July 31, 2012

Could this tiny town be one of the top tech cities? Yes.

“Chattanooga, Tennessee, is on the cutting edge—it’s the front-runner,” says Deb Socia, executive director of broadband technology company Next Century Cities, referring to the city’s 1 gigabit-per-second Internet speed—the fastest in the Western Hemisphere. Implementation of the record-breaking Wi-Fi is only one of the steps city planners have taken to attract tech-savvy businesses to one of the top tech cities.

“The city provides resources for entrepreneurs, knowing the Internet alone won’t bring them,” Socia says. One example is The Enterprise Center, created by a city-run task force to foster and guide efforts related to the gig (how locals refer to the record-setting speed). One recent landmark accomplishment of The Enterprise Center was partnering with the University of Southern California to share ultrahigh-resolution 4K movies of microorganisms via a digital cinema microscope for STEM students, a historic accomplishment in education and cinematography.

Electric power provider EPB has constructed a Smart Grid infrastructure for the town, another major technological asset that has drawn international attention and set the city apart.

Currently, the downtown Chattanooga Innovation District, a pedestrian-friendly hub for startup businesses and tech innovators, is underway. International organization Startup Angels, based in Washington, D.C., will host its annual USA AngelSummit there this fall. More than entrepreneurs and startups are attracted to Chattanooga, however. Volkswagen has made Chattanooga its center for North American manufacturing, and Amazon has a fulfillment center there.

For more on cities making a name in tech, click here.

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