Economic development

Making telecom central

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 09/27/2012 - 07:29

Susan Crawford, writing as a Fellow of the Roosevelt Institute, argues eloquently for paying more attention to broadband capacity and affordability, especially in rural areas of the U.S. She argues that well-provisioned, modern broadband connectivity is essential to economic growth.

Chattanooga continues to be serious about economic growth

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 09/26/2012 - 12:46

Chattanooga is providing financial assistance to people with technical backgrounds who agree to buy a house and move to the area. It's a brilliant idea, and coupled with their fiber network, Chattanooga continues to prove they are not just serving up the same old warmed over, forty year old economic development strategies.

Intelligent Community Foundation announces 2013 award program

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 07/20/2012 - 08:56

The Intelligent Community Foundation has just opened its 2013 Intelligent Community Awards for nominations. This is the first step toward the Intelligent Community of the Year award, to be presented on June 7, 2013.

The awards program salutes the accomplishments of communities in developing inclusive prosperity on a foundation of information and communications technology. Nominations are encouraged from communities large and small, urban and rural, in developing and industrialized nations. The evaluation system compensates for population-related factors and lets the ICF compare large, midsize and small communities worldwide on a level playing field.

The 2013 theme is "Innovation and Employment." A special section of the questionnaire will examine how Intelligent Communities balance the positive and negative impacts of innovation, which both creates new employment and destroys jobs as it makes old processes obsolete. Look for the announcement later this month on the publication of an ICF white paper on Innovation and Employment.

The deadline for nominations is September 21, 2012. The award criteria and nomination form (consisting of just 6 questions) are available here. The ICF also invites communities to take our online self-test to get a feel for how they will be evaluated.

The ICF will announce the next Smart21 Communities of the Year in October at a ceremony in Riverside, California, USA, the 2012 Intelligent Community of the Year.

Disclaimer: I serve as a juror for the awards evaluation.

Broadband drives economic growth

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 12:51

CNBC reports on a UNESCO Broadband Commission report that says every 10 percent increase in the availability of broadband will add 1.3% to economic growth. Don't think that sounds like much? Run that compounded growth out over ten years, and communities with widespread availability of affordable, high performance broadband are going to be enjoying double digit economic performance compared to communities that sat back and waited for the incumbents to deliver their anemic, overpriced offerings.

Fiber keeps bringing jobs and development to Danville

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 07/09/2012 - 07:31

Danville's keen focus on a comprehensive plan to revitalize the downtown area started with creation of a City-owned open access fiber network five years ago. Downtown Danville continues to attract new development; the City just announced a $14 million redevelopment of a historic building that will bring 40+ jobs into the historic River District area of Danville, close to Main Street, shopping, and the Dan River.

Virginia wants data centers

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 09:05

The Virginia state legislature has passed bills providing new incentives to locate data centers in Virginia. The rapid adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud-based data and services is creating demand for places to put all the data. And with data centers, there are jobs:


“With his signature on this legislation, Governor McDonnell has further positioned Loudoun County as a world class location for the data center industry’s leading operators,” Loudoun County Chamber President & CEO Tony Howard said. “The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce fought hard for this legislation because it will provide our County a powerful new competitive advantage that can be used to generate significant new commercial investments and create many new high-paying jobs that will be needed to build, service and operate these high tech data centers.

Design Nine is part of Virginia's Blue Ridge

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 04/19/2012 - 13:22

Design Nine, located in Blacksburg, is part of Virginia's Blue Ridge. The Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitor's Bureau announced a new branding for our region: Virginia's Blue Ridge. We like it....it fits, and the region needs a recognizable brand. We're proud to live and work here...in Virginia's Blue Ridge.

Is Chattanooga the next great place for venture capital and entrepreneurs?

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 03/27/2012 - 07:00

Here is a brief video produced by Alcatel-Lucent on Chattanooga's fiber initiative. One of the people interviewed is a venture capitalist who has settled in Chattanooga, which is worthy of some notice--lack of capital is one of the biggest problems that many regions face when trying to jump start economic development. Most new jobs are created by small business START UPS, not existing small businesses, and start up businesses need angel and VC capital to create those jobs.

Georgia Legislature: Let's drive businesses out of the state!

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 01/30/2012 - 15:39

Via MuniNetworks, some Georgia legislators are getting substantial campaign contributions from the incumbent telephone and cable providers to pass a law making it illegal for communities to create competitive broadband infrastructure. The big win in North Carolina last year, where the legislature did pass such a law, has spurred similar efforts in Georgia and South Carolina.

Could Roanoke be a Silicon Valley?

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 11/29/2011 - 10:26

Business Insider lists the Roanoke, Virginia area as one of twenty smaller areas of the country that could become a high tech "Silicon Valley" type of region. The factors used to create the list are instructive:

Danville, Virginia is a 2012 ICF Intelligent Community

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 10/28/2011 - 08:38

Danville, Virginia is a Smart21 Intelligent Community for 2012. The Intelligent Community Forum announced the top 21 communities this week, and next year seven of those communities will be selected for the Smart7 category. Design Nine has been assisting Danville with the design and development of their City-owned open access fiber network since 2006. nDanville subscribers have access to 100 meg, Gigabit, and 10Gig transport and a choice of private sector services. nDanville is beginning construction of Fiber To The Home (FTTH), which will include a triple-play voice/TV/Internet offering.

Job growth demands business class broadband

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 10/07/2011 - 08:12

If you look at the jobs report released today, it underscores what I have been saying for a decade: neighborhoods are the new business district. CNBC summarizes the September jobs data; the manufacturing sector LOST jobs, but if you go to the household survey, job creation was in the black (modestly).

What does this mean? It means more people are working from home, and that means they need business class broadband, not an "entertainment service," as my cable company quaintly calls our home Internet service.

Rinse and repeat as needed until elected officials get the message:

Neighborhoods are business districts, and business districts need competitive and affordable telecom service options.

Ten facts about broadband

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 09/19/2011 - 13:08

This infographic highlights the huge current and future impact that broadband is having and will continue to have on job creation and economic development. This should be sent to every elected leader.

Danville, Virginia's investment in fiber is paying off

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 08/18/2011 - 08:53

Back in 2006, with the help of Design Nine, the City of Danville made the decision to open their city-owned fiber for commercial use. The first customers were connected in 2007. The self-funded project has grown slowly, has spent carefully, and manages more than one hundred and fifty miles of fiber with just two dedicated staff. The City had an early advantage because Danville is an electric city--they own many of the utility poles, and electric utility line crews have done much of the construction and maintenance work. Some specialized work, like fiber splicing, is still outsourced.

This article in Virginia Business highlights the slow but steady changes that the municipally-owned fiber have brought to the community.

nDanville's early focus has been on serving businesses, and every lot in all five business parks in the area are passed by nDanville fiber. Many other commercial areas of the City are also passed by nDanville fiber, and all the substations in the 500 square mile electric service area are managed with nDanville fiber. But the project has just announced their first fiber to the home initiative, starting with a 250 home pilot project.

The City of Danville, which once had the highest unemployment in Virginia, now looks like the best place for a technology business in the Commonwealth. What other Virginia community can offer:

City leaders have taken the slow and steady approach on a wide variety of economic revitalization initiatives, but it is fiber that has, quite literally, connected the dots for Danville.

Danville: Open access quietly working, attracting jobs, lowering costs

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 06/17/2011 - 09:44

Here is an article about the City of Danville open access network (called nDanville). nDanville started as an open access network in late 2007, so it is in its fourth year. It was the first municipal open access effort in the United States, and has been quietly cutting costs for Internet and VoIP phone service by as much 80% for businesses and institutions using providers on the nDanville fiber network. It has also been bringing jobs and businesses to the community. One of the major economic developments in which nDanville played a key role was the re-purposing of the "White Mill" building. Just a couple of blocks from downtown, the White Mill building was once one of the largest textile plants in the country. But it was closed years ago, and the multi-story building sat empty until it was purchased last year. It is undergoing a complete renovation as a high tech data center, and access to nDanville fiber was crucial to closing the deal. nDanville has also helped attract a specialty PC manufacturer to the community, and more broadly, just about every business using providers on the nDanville network have enjoyed substantially lower costs for VPNs, Internet access, and voice services. The local hospital recently switched to an IP TV provider on nDanville and is enjoying substantial monthly savings from the switch.

nDanville is operated with a staff of two people as part of the City Utilities department. All services to businesses and residents are provided by private sector providers that use nDanville to transport those services over a high performance active Ethernet fiber network. nDanville offers standard 100 megabit, Gigabit, and 10Gigabit connections. Design Nine provided the City with the original business, financial, and technical planning with the network, and continues to assist the City with the project.

Daily Yonder: The tragedy of rural "broadband"

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 04/20/2011 - 10:24

The Daily Yonder has an excellent first person description of the awful state of "broadband" in rural Kentucky. Living just twenty minutes from the state capitol, Frank Povah is stuck with expensive, very slow satellite "little broadband." And as Povah rightly points out, no one seems to car--that is, no one that could have some positive effect on the problem.

WiredWest: Big Broadband is "...single most important driver of economic development"

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 04/08/2011 - 12:34

WiredWest, the consortium of 47 towns in western Massachusetts that has been developing an ambitious plan to take fiber to every home and business that requests service in the WiredWest region, has released a powerful and superbly produced and edited video that makes a strong case that "little broadband" is not adequate today and will not be adequate in the future, and that the lack of big broadband is already affecting the region's ability to attract jobs and maintain adequate levels of economic growth. Watch the whole thing, and the entire North Carolina legislature should be locked in a room and made to watch it. Disclosure: WiredWest is a client of Design Nine.

Manufacturing: The next big thing in rural America

Submitted by acohill on Tue, 03/29/2011 - 10:59

Every economic developer in rural America should print out this article from Wired magazine. Read, highlight it, make paper copies, and distribute it to everyone they talk to, especially local elected leaders (who unfortunately, are probably not reading Wired in any form, paper or Web). Every region that thought they were going to win big on biotech ought to toss that old plan out in the trash and starting asking, "Do we have what we need to bring manufacturing back?"

It's not the big, old nineteen-sixties manufacturing that is coming back. It is the new, small, lean, technology-enabled start ups that are going to bring good paying manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. And they need a few things, with one of them being good, inexpensive broadband. Without it, they can't take orders, send out CAD drawings, upload CNC programs, provide customer support, and do everything else that broadband supports in the modern manufacturing business. Rural America has the best workers in the world, hands down. But without the infrastructure needed by these new companies, rural regions in the U.S. don't have a chance to play.

Wired towns shove cities out of the way

Submitted by acohill on Sat, 02/26/2011 - 15:44

Here is a study that indicates that smaller communities with the right broadband infrastructure are "...emerging as major economic centers." What about your community? Does it have the infrastructure to attract new businesses?

"This is like electricity was....This is a critical utility"

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 02/18/2011 - 15:15

That quote is from Brian Depew with the Center for Rural Affairs, in Nebraska. The New York Times has an article today about how rural areas of the U.S. are being left behind with respect to broadband. Depew goes on to say:

“You often hear people talk about broadband from a business development perspective, but it’s much more significant than that,” Mr. Depew added. “This is about whether rural communities are going to participate in our democratic society. If you don’t have effective broadband, you are cut out of things that are really core to who we are as a country.”

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