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Photography by Lawson Whitaker / Major development projects is one of five trends to watch in Chattanooga in 2020.

If you've been around for a while, you may recall how we worried our computers would crash at the stroke of midnight on the last day of 1999, wiping out our bank accounts and shutting down the infrastructure as every digit of that year vanished into the weirdly futuristic-sounding 2000.

Anyone who stocked canned goods in the cellar to prep for the Y2K meltdown learned pretty quickly that prognosticating can be a dicey proposition. But that's not going to stop us from making some predictions as another improbable number turns up on our calendars.

The last 20 years delivered some huge economic development milestones for the community we call home, from blazing-fast internet speeds that set up our region to become Gig City to the arrival of the Volkswagen plant that made Chattanooga a key player in the auto industry.

As we look ahead at the trends that will shape our region's business scene in 2020, some of the big developments we see on the horizon tie directly back to the defining moments the first two decades of this century delivered. For example, that Volkswagen plant is expanding and making the Scenic City the company's epicenter of electric vehicle production. (No, they aren't the flying cars the Jetsons promised us, but they're still pretty cool.)

The past year also set the stage for several trends we see coming, including the continuation — and evolution — of the Gold Rush growth of the hemp industry, and the changing landscape of our community as major development projects take shape — from the Red Wolves stadium complex in East Ridge to the transformation of the old Alstom plant on the city's Southside.

Trend 1: Gig City's second decade will deliver more speed, innovation

Trend 2: Growing like a weed: The hemp trade is a complex, thriving industry that's rapidly gaining ground even as it generates confusion.

Trend 3: Chattanooga at center of VW's electric vision

Trend 4: Future Ready Institutes: Developing the next generation of workers

Trend 5: Alstom site, East Ridge, downtown Chattanooga see growth

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