Kansas City, Google Fiber and Economic Development

All eyes seem to be on Kansas City after Google’s announcement last Thursday with important details on their fiber network. A lot of those details address consumer-side issues. Google promises to address business apps at some later date.

In the meantime, KC stakeholders are addressing broadband’s impact on economic development, and in part through their Web site GoogleConnectsKC. I was retained to write a series of 12 articles for the site on different communities that are making economic development strides using wired and wireless broadband.

Five have been posted so far and each week one of the remaining seven are being posted. Check these out and add them to your broadband playbook. Economic development in its many forms will be one of broadband’s killer apps in KC and elsewhere. This series helps you reinforce that strategy.

Articles so far

  • By 2003, Danville, VA had became almost a ghost town. Major industry had left. Unemployment was at 19%. The city’s visionary public utility turned to broadband to pull them back from the abyss, and then used it as the foundation for a strong digital economy.
  • Santa Monica launched a creative program to get multi-unit property owners to install fiber throughout their buildings. This not only reversed an economy hobbling vacancy rate, but also became the nucleus of a successful drive to create valuable technology incubators.
  • Three Vermont counties banded together to run a fairly inexpensive contest that not only drew dozens of businesses onto the Web, but also provided valuable training so these businesses maximized their online presence. Rather than six-figure contests to find creative broadband apps, here’s how you can produce better results for less money.
  • Chattanooga’s 48Hour Launch is an accelerator program cultivating applications that can take advantage of gig networks. About one weekend a quarter, technology development magic happens. The net result is a constant feeding of the local tech industry with startups that in turn drive the digital economy.
  • The rural town of Three Lakes, WI managed to leverage both wired and wireless technology to improve the local economy. However, they did it not by thinking big, but by thinking small.

One Response

  1. I was reading comments on another forum and “Ben” said we need to stop spending money on Google Fiber and start spending money on realistic jobs for the poor. I get his disconnect. We need to do a much better job (video mainly) of explaining the world of the poor before and after fiber for folks who have no reference point on why things will be better for them in terms of raw opportunities. Thanks for this article doing some of that. We also need formal, proactive, aggressive apprenticeship/mentorship networks. This, not high speed fiber, is the infrastructure which is needed in every economic situation (and I’m a pro giganet guy). I’ve been thinking about the hash #projectnetwork as a way to begin building this. Any takers?

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