People and Programming
Expand public engagement in the district to provide diverse and inclusive participation in public life, practice robust civic innovation, broaden and create new festival and event programming authentic to the district, maximize arts and cultural heritage programming and fully engage district assets for learning and educational opportunities.
Diversity and Inclusion
Public input throughout the planning process stressed the need for the Innovation District to attract more diverse populations to be more representative of the city’s racial and ethnic demographic mix and to be inclusive in all district initiatives and programming. This will not happen without deliberate efforts to connect with and engage diverse populations at fundamental stages of Innovation District planning and implementation work. To increase diversity in the district, next steps will be to seek community input on new ways of engaging and collaborating, and to look for successful examples in other cities.
Arts and Culture
Just as diversity enhances the competitiveness of an Innovation District, so do art and culture. They help build a vibrant and attractive quality of life that attracts and retains talent. The Innovation District was fortunate to have a rich mix of cultural offerings even before the district was named in 2015. Chief among these were the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, joined in the district by private venues such as JJ’s Bohemia and The Camp House and programs such as Jazzanooga, Nightfall and The Levitt Amp Music Series. Chattanooga’s public art program continues to enliven the area and the district is home to Arts Build, Chattanooga’s arts advocacy, programming and education non-profit. Input received during the planning process asked for a wide range of cultural offerings, as well as enhancements of public spaces to encourage tactical installations.
Festival and Events
The Innovation District contains the major downtown public open spaces, including Miller Park, undergoing a complete redesign and Patten Parkway that will be redesigned later in 2018. These spaces along with Miller Plaza and the BSCC lawn have the potential to host new and expanded festivals and events of all kinds. It is recommended that current festivals and events be evaluated to determine how they might be improved as authentic and diverse offerings to the social life of the district, and what new types of events would add to the vision of the district. There is growing interest in the creation of a signature annual event that combines and showcases the district’s innovation, entrepreneurship, technology and creative assets.
Community of Learning
A vibrant Innovation District centralizes the economic assets, cross sector connections and access to new ideas that exist in the private and public sectors, and then fuels public-private partnerships with the potential for broad impact. Aligning key educational initiatives and players, such as Hamilton County public schools, UTC and Chattanooga State, the Public Education Foundation, Public Library, Tech Town and Tech Goes Home, Chattanooga can maximize the engagement of K-12 and postsecondary students and educators in the entrepreneurial and civic opportunities concentrated in this district. Through building key programs, strong links to businesses and a learning environment, the Innovation District can become a student’s open door to new educational opportunities as they develop into community leaders.