Obama praises Chattanooga as 'a tornado of innovation'

President Barack Obama speaks at Cedar Falls Utilities on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

President Obama lifted up Chattanooga for a second consecutive day as an example of what high-speed Internet service can bring to a community, calling the Scenic City "a tornado of innovation."

In a speech today in Cedar Falls, Iowa - another city with gigabit-per-second Internet speed through its municipal utility - Obama praised the turnaround in Chattanooga.

Obama said as "an old railroad town" Chattanooga was once the dirtiest city in the nation and suffered more than most during the recession.

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"But that did not stop them from building America's first citywide, high-speed, fiber network -- right down the middle of downtown," Obama said today. "Today, a new generation of engineers and entrepreneurs have moved down to Chattanooga."

Obama credited EPB's high-speed broadband started four years ago for helping to spur more technology and innovation in the city.

"It's unleashing a tornado of innovation -- the city is even testing out futuristic technologies like 3-D holograms," the president said. "And here's what their former mayor said, It's like having -- "It's like being the first city to have fire. We don't know all of the things we can do with it yet."

The speech came a day after Obama also highlighted Chattanooga and Cedar Falls in a talk from the Oval Office in the White House. Both cities are among the first in the Western Hemisphere to offer gigabit-per-second Internet speed.

Obama is pushing the FCC to end state limits on municipalities and others that might start higher speed Internet and he is expected to push in his State of the Union speech next week for more effort to bring high-speed broadband to the entire country.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.