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Why Housing Is Key to Chattanooga's Tech-Hub Ambitions

With its superfast broadband, the city has reinvented itself. Now it must safeguard its future by building to sustain that growth.
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Flickr/Andrew Steele

Chattanooga gets a lot of press thanks to its smart-grid Internet. Both The New York Times and The Guardian ran affectionate spreads of "Gig City" this past year. Both mentioned that Chattanooga residents can download a two-hour movie in under a minute. And both mentioned that the city's economy has been revolutionized as Chattanooga emerges as a destination for tech-driven innovation.

But there are other valuable infrastructure lessons being hashed out in Tennessee's fourth-largest city. Chattanooga is aiming to build on the reputation it's earned from its world-class broadband service. The goal is to make the city a sustainable innovation hub, showing that it's a well-rounded city rather than a one-trick pony. Evidence of this forward-thinking strategy can be seen in an ambitious expansion of housing downtown—known locally as the City Center—which is aimed at attracting young professionals that value walkable urban cores.