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Community members weigh in on future of Chattanooga's Innovation District

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Downtown Chattanooga is changing as we've seen several downtown businesses close down over the last few months.

Community members talked about what to do with those vacant spaces.

Organizers with the innovation district planning committee have conducted several focus groups and heard from more than a hundred people.

The innovation district planning committee wanted to hear a wider range of feedback from community members about the progress of the revitalization project. Community members filled out a survey to help remap the city to make it more useful.

The heart of downtown is the new innovation district, it potentially will be divided into three areas for a collaborative result.

Those areas will be the civic commons, downtown campus and the MLK culture corridor.

Stacy Lightfoot is one of the community members weighing in on the project.

“When I look at the drawings I see opportunities for all,” said Stacy Lightfoot, VP of College and Career for Public Education Foundation. “I talked to the organizer and the power that be that made this event possible I think their heart is in the right place.”

The plans for the innovation district includes how this will affect every type of community members which Lightfoot says will make the positive difference when it's complete.

As a Chattanooga native she takes a moment to reflect of how her mother would feel seeing the future of downtown Chattanooga.

“What the MLK corridor meant for my family I would love to keep that spirit and embody that spirit of culture and arts and entertainment,” said Stacy Lightfoot. “But also how do you mesh that with this notion of innovation and creation.”

Lightfoot is at the forefront of initiatives advocating for students' access to education, including her own son.

“I feel the downtown could be the place and can be the place if this is done right for him to see himself walking in the streets and being educated here and participating in entrepreneurship programs,” said Stacy Lightfoot.

After the meeting organizer will go back to the drawing board to think through some more actionable ideas for the next three or four months.

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