Enterprise Center announces digital inclusion effort

Authored By david.morton

The Enterprise Center has announced plans to bring Internet access to more Chattanooga residents. The nonprofit organization is launching a pilot program it hopes will help close the city’s digital divide in February. 

Tech Goes Home Chattanooga will be available at six community centers in Hamilton County. Adults and children will be taught how to find information and resources online. Upon completing the 15-hour course, participants will have the option of purchasing a new Chromebook computer for $50. The program will also help residents secure Internet service at their home, the announcement said.

The program is based on a similarly named initiative from Boston. Locally, it is being funded with a grant from the Benwood Foundation.

“Tech Goes Home has an outstanding track record,” said Ken Hays, president of The Enterprise Center. “It has been highly effective in helping students obtain the skills, hardware and connectivity needed for 21st-century success, while also demonstrating why the Internet is relevant in our daily lives.”

The program will first be offered at Howard School, East Lake Academy of Fine Arts, Red Bank High School, the Eastgate library branch, Chattanooga’s Youth and Family Development Academy and Second Missionary Baptist Church.

In 2014, Mayors Andy Berke and Jim Coppinger, along with Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, reorganized The Enterprise Center to focus on digital efforts and entrepreneurship. Hays was named president of the organization last April.

“It is essential we recognize the importance of digital inclusion in our innovation economy,” Berke said. “Ensuring digital equity translates into stronger, more connected communities and increased economic opportunity-a true competitive advantage for Chattanooga.”

Said Coppinger, “This is an issue that affects our entire community, and addressing it will ensure the future success of Chattanooga and the greater Hamilton County area.”

The digital inclusion program is one of several recommendations outlined in a 2014 report on technology in Chattanooga. Hays recently announced the designation of an innovation district downtown.