2022-2023 has been a year of opportunity for The Enterprise Center. We scaled existing digital equity initiatives, launched pilot projects in partnership with local neighborhoods, and are poised to accept federal grant funds from the EPA and FCC to benefit residents across our region.
Both in times of uncertainty and of growth, The Enterprise Center exists to ask, “How can we help?” We harness the strengths of our collective to build meaningful, sustainable solutions with the communities we serve — not for them.
That distinction is one with profound significance to us, informing our approach not only to our daily work, but also our organizational expansion. TEC multiplied from a burgeoning team of approximately a dozen to nearly triple in size, which allows us to continue to cultivate opportunities like our new civic storytelling program, Chattamatters, and the Orchard Knob Connected Communities Project to address social determinants of health – through a technology lens – on a larger scale.
While our deepest roots are embedded across Hamilton County, partnerships with the Tennessee Child Care Resource & Referral Network, the Southeast Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability, and West End Home Foundation have allowed us to further cultivate collaborations across Tennessee to reach additional communities in need of resources. Simultaneously, our hyper-local Chattamatters project has allowed us to uplift community voices across Chattanooga and become even more deeply entrenched and invested in our neighborhoods.
In addition to nurturing these new aspects of ongoing work to increase access — to technology, high speed internet access, community spaces, educational resources, and so much more — we’re proud to have helped more than 16,000 Hamilton County Schools students and their families connect to no-cost, in-home internet through the third year of our HCS EdConnect partnership, powered by EPB.
And, since its creation, the Resiliency Checklist has been utilized by more than 600 small businesses and organizations across the region to ensure preparedness for whatever comes their way.
Our EMPACT workforce development program, in partnership with City of Chattanooga and Chattanooga State Community College, provided training and a training stipend to three cohorts of community residents earning a Google IT certification. When graduates gained employment with partners like City of Chattanooga IT Services, City of Red Bank, and our local chapter of Boys and Girls Club, we celebrated their success alongside them. With nearly 100 more interested participants on a list for future classes, we are also all too aware of how many others are still seeking opportunity.
Our burgeoning Networking & Neurodiversity project, focused on providing pathways for neurodivergent community members to connect with potential employers, resources, and peers, grew from an idea into a quarterly event averaging 100+ attendees thanks to an abundance of collaborative partnerships. And, we aim to cultivate similar intentional spaces for community support for a new Black in Tech initiative.
Now, we stand ready to bring additional support to the Chattanooga region through emerging technological advancements and the Chattanooga Smart Community Collaborative. And, as the city evolves with the technological capabilities of Quantum technology, The Enterprise Center works to ensure the digital divide doesn’t grow.
In this line of work, it is all too easy to forget that every individual involved has a reason — and a dream all their own. It is a privilege to connect with each person who trusts us to help them reach their next milestone.
For many, the beginning of this decade has been characterized by community resiliency. As we begin a new fiscal year, filled with new opportunities, we hope the rest of this (still) new decade can be colored by the intentionality of those who believe in a more inclusive future for all.
Sydney Crisp, Chairman of the Board
Deb Socia, President & CEO