City seeks label as world's 'smartest'

City seeks label as world's 'smartest'

June 3rd, 2011 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region


• Chattanooga

• Dublin, Ohio

• Eindhoven, Netherlands

• Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

• Riverside, Calif.

• Stratford, Canada

• Windsor-Essex, Canada

Source: Intelligent Community Forum

Chattanooga vies today with six other cities worldwide for the so-called "smartest city" title given by a New York-based think tank.

With Chattanooga's ultra-fast Internet connectivity seen as a key, Mayor Ron Littlefield leads a local delegation in New York City with hopes of picking up the top spot.

The Intelligent Community Forum, an economic and social development think tank, earlier picked Chattanooga and the other locations from a list of 21 cities it named last year.

Chris Daly, director of technology development and transfer at Chattanooga's Enterprise Center, said landing on the Forum's short list is a recognition of what the city has done and how far it has come.

"We know we've done a lot and made a lot of progress," he said. "It helps when you get outside validation."

Chattanooga's ranking in ICF's top seven was bolstered by EPB's fully accessible, 1-gigabit residential Internet service, officials said. Also mentioned was improved air quality, downtown revitalization and better standards for secondary education with integrated career training.

J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of marketing, said the city has come a long way. He cited air quality, noting the city this week received notice that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined that Chattanooga complied with regulations for levels of fine particulates such as dust or soot.

"We've come a long way," he said. In 1969, EPA designated Chattanooga as the "dirtiest air" city in the country.

Last month, ICF's selection process entered its final stage when a team of independent academic experts visited the seven cities. They surveyed the cities' technological infrastructure and gauged the impact of each in powering growth, addressing social challenges and preserving and promoting culture.

Ken Hays, a partner in former Mayor Jon Kinsey's Chattanooga development firm that helped get the word out about the city's status, said every other city on the final list had previously been nominated or participated in ICF's competition.

"This is Chattanooga's first time and we've made it to the top seven," he said.

Hays said the Scenic City already is a winner no matter what happens today.

"It was a great collaborative process of people working together," he said.

Last year's winner was Suwon, South Korea. Other winners in the past decade included Stockholm, Sweden; Waterloo, Canada; Taipei, Taiwan; Glasgow, Scotland; and New York City.