Study: Chattanooga fiber project made $2.7B impact in decade

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A study ordered up by Chattanooga’s municipal utility credits its public broadband infrastructure initiative with an economic impact of more than $2.69 billion over its first decade.

The study conducted by University of Tennessee at Chattanooga finance professor Bento Lobo estimates the project by the Electric Power Board saved or created 9,516 jobs in Hamilton County.

The research found the project's value exceeded costs by more than $2.2 billion. Some impacted categories include business investment, startup funding, real estate development, the smart grid, business productivity, consumer surplus, residential bill savings, health care, telecommuting, education and publicity.

The initiative drew Chattanooga the nickname “Gig City,” promising to offer gigabit-per-second Internet speed.

The study says it likely underestimates the value because it hasn’t been able to adequately quantify local effects on telehealth, education and civic services.

The power board paid $25,000 for the study. Lobo is a First Tennessee Bank distinguished professor at the university.