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.


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.

Chattanooga’s Elixir community working to develop diverse tech talent

Pictured are two men and two women speaking on a panel
Members of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga's team pose at a community event.

Maggie Tate

Have you been to a technical conference and been disappointed at the lack of diversity?

So have we, and in 2017, Bruce Tate, author, programmer and speaker decided to do something about it. He called in every favor and friend developed over his 30-year programming career to start the Gig City Elixir, a programming language conference here in Chattanooga. The conference organizers have a very strong focus on diversity in tech. Six of our 20 speakers at this year’s conference, held Oct. 18-19 on Floor Five of The Edney, were from underrepresented groups in tech. We offered scholarships to 20 percent of the 150 attendees, to help create a more diverse conference.

But focusing on diversity at one conference isn’t enough — that’s why the local Elixir community in Chattanooga works on a regular basis to provide opportunities to those that haven’t had them yet. To this end, we run two mentoring groups. We teach local high school students at The Future Ready Institute at Red Bank High School in an after-school coding club. And, we lead an in-depth mentoring program for women and minorities in coding Elixir in Chattanooga. (We’re also developing a mentor group in Austin, TX, where we will host another Elixir conference in February 2020.) When we meet with mentees, we discuss career goals and help them network and look for job opportunities. This kind of work is multifaceted and a long road.

One purpose of the mentoring group is to prepare the mentees to take advantage of the opportunity to learn and network at conferences. We encourage young women and minority professionals to seek leadership and speaking opportunities, and we provide such opportunities at the conferences we host. Local and regional meetups are great opportunities for new speakers to practice and hone their skills. We aim to work with several regional programs to develop local talent to send to ElixirConf, the national Elixir Conference next fall in Colorado.

Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s Gig City Elixir, including the one-third of people who traveled here from out of town, and students and faculty from UTC, Tennessee Tech, Chatt State, Covenant College, Sewanee and Red Bank High School.

And thank you to our sponsors. We could not have achieved the success this year without them:

Platinum: Bridge Connector, Pillar Technology, Very

Community: Carbon Five

Lanyard: Bleacher Report

Gold: Binary Noggin, Groxio, Zillion

Elixir Champion: Aspire, CodeScience, Dockyard, Gigalixir, Tito

Better Allies: Amos King, Stu Halloway, Doyle Turner

Conference Dinner: Jay Dalke

The Enterprise Center


We love being a part of the tech and education scene here in Chattanooga and look forward to hosting the conference again in October 2020. If you are interested in the Elixir Chatt mentoring group for women and minorities or want to be involved in the 2020 conference, contact Maggie@grox.io.

Maggie Tate runs Communication at Grox.io, home of the Programmer Passport – a subscription to test drive a new programming language every 8 weeks with e-books, videos and projects and exercises. Twitter: @groxiolearning