Chattanooga Is Densifying Its Downtown–Will It Diversify Too?

Chattanooga, Tenn., has done some impressive things over the past few decades, being forward looking first in terms of investing in going green, and then in offering the fastest Internet service in the country.

As this CityLab article points out, it's now trying to densify its downtown, which had lacked “adequate” housing to sustain the kind of urban culture of innovation it hopes to cultivate to go with its “Gig City” success.

But there's not a single word in that article about affordability. Not a single word to acknowledge that if you have tech jobs downtown, and tech workers living downtown, with the attendent businesses that cater to them, then you also have low-wage service sector jobs downtown. And maybe it would be a healthy thing for your city if those folks could live near their jobs and the attendent amenities as well.

But it's not too late. Chattanooga has proven itself forward looking before. Perhaps it can do so again, and become the leader in inclusive, equitable tech development.

(Photo credit: Downtown Chattanooga, Flickr user nateClicks)

Miriam Axel-Lute is CEO/editor-in-chief of Shelterforce. She lives in Albany, New York, and is a proud small-city aficionado.


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