About The Innovation District

Where Chattanooga’s entrepreneurs, academics, and creatives collide. 

Events Calendar

Discover activities and events in the area.

Resiliency Checklist

Everything you need to prepare your organization for a crisis.

Small Business Supports

Helping small business owners across the region.

The Edney Innovation Center

The front door to the Innovation District of Chattanooga.

Tech Goes Home

Expanding access to technology and teaching digital literacy.

Digital Access Committee

Bringing together partners to close the digital divide, together.

HCS EdConnect

Home internet at no cost to thousands of families.

Connected Communities: Orchard Knob

The OKC leverages the collective support of partner organizations to tackle the whole picture of health and wellness in the historically underserved neighborhood.

Chattamatters

Answering the most basic and most complex questions about life in Chattanooga

EMPACT Program

Preparing residents for the jobs of tomorrow, and today. 

Chattanooga Smart Communities Collaborative

Working together to identify our region’s challenges and create solutions.

Environmental Sensors

Collecting and analyzing air quality data from across our region with US Ignite.

Education (4K Microscope & Lola)

High-tech tools in Hamilton County’s classrooms.

Community Connectivity

Expanding access to the internet in homes and neighborhoods.

A long road to equity: Reflections and opportunities from Mountain Connect with TEC CEO Deb Socia

From left: TVA's Georgia Caruthers, TEC CEO Deb Socia, Chattanooga City Councilwoman Marvene Noel, Orchard Knob Connected Communities Project Manager Katherlyn Geter, and EPB Director of Government Affairs Evann Freeman at Mountain Connect

When I was a child, there was no internet. We all had access to the same library for information — as long as we could walk to it and enter safely, that resource in our community was not an exclusive one. 

Fast forward to today, and we have so many brilliant children who don’t get recognized because they don’t have access to assets and resources necessary to showcase their talents in a 21st-century world. Unless you’ve lived the experience of having no access, you don’t realize how many people do. 

Last week, at Mountain Connect in Denver, I had another opportunity: To see firsthand how the sheer number of audiences invested in a deeper understanding of digital equity have grown. And I had the privilege of sharing a wide range of lessons learned alongside some incredible colleagues. 

Until the pandemic, we as a society were largely blind to the experiences that meant so many students were attempting to do homework in McDonald’s parking lots. As a former middle school principal, these were student struggles I was personally all-too-familiar with, but recognized the majority of our country could not see or understand.

Now, state broadband offices across the country are in a delicate dance; challenged to both deepen their community support while attempting to capitalize on a never-before-seen amount of federal funds available to address the inherent inequities experienced by families across the country.

Mountain Connect and the other incredible conferences like it have all scaled exponentially over the past few years. To see more than 700 other elected leaders, industry professionals, and decision makers at this year’s event was to come away with a renewed appreciation of this pivotal moment in time for digital equity and the platform the pandemic inadvertently provided. The horrible circumstances of the last several years have shifted the understanding of these barriers and these inequities forever. They’ve shed light on a generational struggle.

At conferences, I often think about the level of discernment required for all those communities who are new to addressing the challenges surrounding digital equity and inclusion. 

In 1999, when Tech Goes Home began in Boston, reaching those who are disconnected was difficult work. In 2023 in Chattanooga, that remains true. At The Enterprise Center we rely on partnerships and connect (whenever possible) with existing community pipelines in order to maximize both our efficacy and the success of individual outcomes by prioritizing our efforts in channels where community trust already exists. 

I imagined I’d be working on getting attention for this community-centric digital inclusion work my whole life. Now, I don’t have to be so loud. It is the longest-term overnight success of any project I’ve ever been involved in, and I’ve never been more hopeful.

Join us for a broadband access & skills conference July 22-23:

We’re thrilled to host the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s 2024 Digital Opportunity Summit — and equally thrilled to invite you a day early, to dig into Chattanooga and Hamilton County’s digital opportunity story …