History: In January 2016, Mayor Andy Berke declared a 140-acre portion of Chattanooga's central city an Innovation District — the first for a mid-sized American city. In October, a new brand logo was unveiled during Startup Week CHA.
What is it: The Innovation District highlights the mix of startups, business incubators, and accelerators purposefully located close to innovation economy generators and amenities within Chattanooga's central city.
Location: Anchored by the Edney Innovation Center at Market and 11th streets, the zone stretches about a quarter of a mile in all directions to include nearly 50 startup businesses and organizations, including the Company Lab and the Enterprise Center in the Edney, the Lamp Post Group and Dynamo Accelerator in the Loveman's Building, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the new Tomorrow Building at Georgia Avenue and Patten Parkway.
The new logo: A local design and branding collaborative comprised of Widgets & Stone, 26 Tools, llc., and The Official Studio developed the new logo this year that has been painted on downtown streets and displayed on banners hung from downtown street poles and lights.
"There's an irony to creating a brand about an innovation district. Innovation, at its best, is something that can't be programmed. It's like inspiration or good fortune: It happens, and the best you can do is have the right people in place and be prepared to catch it and hold onto it as it takes flight," says Paul Rustand, director of Widgets & Stone.
Importance: The district has drawn the attention of urban experts from across the country. Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute said the district is part of "something special happening in Chattanooga" and is a key element of an emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in the city. Mayor Berke said the Innovation District " has quickly became a place where people from all walks of life and backgrounds come together to explore and collaborate, whether it's within the realm of technology, art, recreation, commerce, or civic engagement."
Web site: chainnovate.com