2016: A Year of Innovation in Review

By Maggie Neff, Chattanooga TREND Contributor

There’s much to toast this holiday season, including Chattanooga’s growing foothold in the innovation space. Here are some of the highlights of 2016. Cheers!

January

Modeled after a nationally recognized program in Minnesota, STEP-UP Chattanooga connects businesses with high schoolers to bolster the workforce of tomorrow. Launched in January, the program completed its pilot program during the summer with 76 students working a collective 12,000 hours at paid summer internships with 46 local businesses. 

March

After releasing a report on workforce and education gaps last year, a collective of forward-thinking Hamilton County leaders created Chattanooga 2.0. In March, 2.0 launched “100 Days of Community Conversations,” an engagement initiative attracting more than 3,700 citizens through working groups, public meetings, surveys and other outlets.

The culminating report, “Chattanooga 2.0: Building the Smartest Community in the South,” outlines bold strategies for doubling the number of Hamilton County high school graduates who earn postsecondary degrees or certifications by the year 2025. 

August

This summer, the 20-mile Tennessee Riverpark grew by three miles, boasting a wider, paved new section rich in industrial and cultural history. The much-anticipated addition, which extends to the city’s Southside, provides greater access to the Riverwalk as well as several new art pieces.

A Tennessee Riverpark app (available for iOS and Android) offers visitors interactive maps, historical and cultural tours, points of interest and trailhead locations.

August

Passageways reimagines alleys as spaces for public art and interaction, transforming five downtown locations with imaginative and downright cool art installations. Presented by River City Company and AIA Tennessee, installations highlight the work of artists from up the street and around the world. They remain until at least August 2017, but hurry if you haven’t seen them. You’ll want to make up for lost time with return visits. 

October

Chattanooga’s newest accelerator program, Dynamo, helps young companies develop pioneering technologies and practices that streamline the logistics, transportation and supply chain world.

The premier accelerator of its kind, Dynamo mentored 10 businesses during its inaugural three-month program, which concluded in October with a pitch-style Demo Day. Four of those companies have since either relocated or opened an office here: Locatible, SKUPOS, STORD and WorkHound.