Chattanooga, Tennessee joins Detroit in offering monetary incentives for tech-savvy young folks who relocate to the city.
To outsiders, the name Chattanooga might conjure up picturesque Appalachian scenery and country tunes, but the city has a very different image of itself. The fourth largest city in Tennessee is, in fact, the unlikely home to, a one gigabit-per-second service that the city is capitalizing on by dubbing itself “Gig City.”
But ask your average young overachiever outside the state for their impressions of the town and you probably won’t hear much about broadband. So Chattanooga is taking a bold step to bring outside perspectives closer in line with realities on the ground and attempting to attract more interest in the city from the tech savvy.
Have Tech Skills, Will Move
The program, called, is offering a substantial incentive of a $10,000 forgivable mortgage and $1,250 for relocation expenses to programmers and other geeks who live more than 50 miles from the city who are and buy a home in one of the city’s historic central neighborhoods. To get the mortgage incentive, the tech-savvy recipient must stick around for three years. There are ten slots available.
The scheme, which is funded by, is hoping to provide the city with a double whammy when it comes to development, both nurturing the budding tech scene and helping to spur the revitalization of the historic downtown neighborhoods.
“It’s not just about having jobs, we have to create places for geeks to live. We have to have in Chattanooga,” Abby Garrison, director of strategic initiatives at Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise,.
Can I Apply?
So who exactly can apply? You must be a full-time developer and system administrator who can demonstrate your proficiency through experience and/or certifications. You must live outside a 50-mile radius of Chattanooga and, of course, you must be in a financial position to buy a house. But that’s not as high a hurdle as it might sound. than in. So $10,000 in a forgivable mortgage might not seem like much, especially for those who live in places like Seattle where starter homes cost in excess of $400,000. But Chattanooga, according to Zillow stats, has a median list price of just $153,500. (Seattle’s is $399,000).
Not Just Chattanooga
Chattanooga isn’t alone in trying to lure talented and energetic folks to town with impressive sweeteners. Earlier this year, to participate in its revitalization with a $500 a month housing stipend and a $30,000 salary to work at a top Detroit company.
The scheme attracted an impressive 900 applications and selected. If you missed the deadline or if you’re more for small city charms than Detroit’s urban grit, perhaps Chattanooga might be worth a look.
Would an incentive like this make you consider moving somewhere unlikely?
is a freelance writer based in London. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch and GigaOM.