Rural Broadband is a hot topic and many municipalities and counties are joining together across the Nation to provide such services. Here are some great examples:
When a community invests in a municipal broadband network, it often does so because it hopes to reap economic benefits from the network. Many people and organizations have explored the positive relationship between municipal Internet networks and economic development, including a White House report published in January 2015. Municipal networks create jobs by ensuring businesses have fast, affordable, and reliable Internet access; the old DSL and cable networks just don’t cut it. These networks improve the productivity of existing businesses and attract new businesses to communities, allow individuals to work from home more effectively, support advanced healthcare and security systems, strengthen local housing markets, and represent long term social investments in the form of better-connected schools and libraries. They also create millions of dollars in savings that can be reinvested into local economies.
“Upgrading to higher speed broadband lets consumers use the Internet in new ways, increases the productivity of American individuals and businesses, and drives innovation throughout the digital ecosystem.” – Executive Office of President Obama
When municipalities choose to deploy fiber networks, they introduce Internet services into the community that are not only significantly faster than DSL and cable, but more reliable. With more reliable fiber connections, businesses and individuals are far less likely to experience temporary blackouts that can halt productivity in vexing and expensive ways. And because these networks are locally-owned and operated, business owners do not have to spend hours on the phone with an absentee Internet Service Provider like AT&T in the (albeit unlikely) event of a problem.
We at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance have catalogued numerous examples of economic development achievements that have occurred as a result of local governments deploying a municipal broadband network. Below, you can find a wide range of articles, studies, anecdotes, and other resources that speak to the economic successes enabled by municipal networks, organized by topic:
- Job Creation
- Business Attraction
- Business Support
- Tech and Entrepreneurship
- Property Values
- General Resources
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Look no further than Morristown, Tennessee, for an example of job creation thanks to municipal fiber. The city took advantage of its local electrical utility, Morristown Utility Systems, to provide gigabit speeds, and businesses jumped at the opportunity. In 2013, Oddello Industries, a furniture manufacturer, brought 228 jobs to the community after investing in a $4.4 million site expansion in Morristown. More recently, a call center looking to relocate to the city was wowed by the municipal utility’s offer to install fiber for free because the city valued the future economic benefits the call center would bring to Morristown over the cost of the fiber installation.
- Our economic development fact sheet outlines several of the job creation opportunities that have resulted from municipal networks.
- In 2012, Spirit Aerosystems opened up a new manufacturing facility in Chanute, Kansas, creating 150 jobs that require high quality broadband Internet.
- In Lebanon, Virginia, defense contractor Northrup Grumman and IT consultant CGI announced the creation of 700 jobs paying twice the median wage.
- HomeServe, a home repair company, expanded its call center to 140 employees because of Chattanooga, Tennessee’s robust municipal broadband infrastructure; in Chattanooga, HomeServe employees could get faster residential service than executives had in the company’s Miami headquarters.
- In 2015, Hardide Coatings, a surface coating manufacturer located in Henry County, Virginia, that relies on the municipal broadband provider MiNet, added 29 high-paying jobs to the local economy.
“You can’t grow jobs with slow Internet.” – Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore
- The Dalles, Oregon, received a much-needed economic boost in the form of 200 jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenues when Google invested $1.2 billion in a data center that used the city’s municipal fiber network, Q-Life.
- A new data center in Dawsonville, Georgia, created 12 high-paying jobs and expanded the local tax base thanks to the municipally-owned North Georgia Network.
- Increased competition in Chattanooga, Tennessee, due to the city’s powerful municipal fiber network, induced Comcast to bring 150 new jobs to town.
- Thomasville, Georgia’s municipal fiber network revitalized the community’s downtown and brought more than 200 jobs to Main Street.
- Tacoma, Washington has, for many years, been on the cutting edge of municipal Internet deployment; a 2001 quote from the city’s mayor revealed that Tacoma benefited early on from the network – attracting over 100 companies and creating 700 jobs in 18 months.
- The laying of an open-access fiber-optic network, called the Three Ring Binder, in Maine created 400 jobs in the construction industry.
The city of Mount Vernon, Washington has two things in common with our country’s first president, but unlike George, it boasts an impressive municipal broadband network that has attracted high-tech businesses. For example, a digital legal firm, Blank Law, relocated from Seattle to Mount Vernon in order to take advantage of faster speeds offered by the city’s municipal broadband network. While high-speed Internet was not the only reason Blank Law cited for choosing Mount Vernon over other towns (other reasons include quality of life and free parking), it played a significant role. Fiber is rarely the sole reason for a relocation, but it can often be a deciding factor.
- Zeyuan, a Chinese wood floor manufacturer, and GOK International, a Chinese furniture assembly plant, built manufacturing centers in Danville, Virginia, knowing they would benefit from connecting to the city’s municipal broadband network.
- Expedia, the online travel giant, kept many hundreds of jobs in Springfield, Missouri in the form of a call center that relies heavily on the high bandwidth of Springfield’s municipal network.
- Agisent Technology Inc., formerly known as J2 Software Solutions, a small software company that provides police technology services, relocated its headquarters to Tullahoma, Tennessee, thanks in large part to the municipal fiber network LighTUBe.
“It’s almost a feeling of disbelief when we tell companies today we can provide a gig to your business and to your house…These companies want to go where they can see the gig service.” – Marshall Ramsey, President of the Morristown, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce
- Pixel Magic, a visual effects producer, and Tapes Again, a media reproduction and processing company, both set up shop in Lafayette, Louisiana to support the state’s burgeoning film industry — and access to the municipally-owned LUS Fiber greatly facilitated these activities.
- An industrial park in Cedar Falls, Iowa went from having 27 businesses and $5 million in taxable valuation to having 160 businesses and $270 million in valuation in the twenty years since it hooked up to the city’s municipal fiber network.
- Faneuil, a customer care center, and SPARTA Inc., a defense contractor, were attracted to Martinsville, Virginia in large part because of the city’s municipal network, MiNet.
- A film production company, Exodus FX, opened its new special effects studios in Wilson, North Carolina, citing high-speed municipal broadband as a major reason for locating its services in the small city.
The small Minnesota town of Windom nearly entered crisis mode when Fortune Trucking, a local company that employed 47 people in a town of 4,600, announced that slow Internet speeds might force it to leave town. Although the company’s headquarters were located a mile outside of the Windom’s jurisdiction, community members successfully lobbied to bring municipal fiber to Fortune, saving those jobs and stabilizing the local economy.
- MagnaTech, a towing and RV accessory manufacturer, decided to keep its business in Chanute, Kansas when the city installed a fiber network, reports the Chanute Tribune.
- Alpha Natural Resources, a coal mining company, stayed in Bristol, Virginia, thanks to the BVU municipal fiber network
- When the city of Princeton, Illinois set up a municipal broadband network, it kept 300 jobs in the community with the global industrial machinery company, Ingersoll Rand.
- In Longmont, Colorado, a billboard production company, Circle Graphics, used the city’s municipal broadband network, NextLight, to improve its ability to quickly deliver products to customers.
- The city of Aurora, Illinois, is offering local business seminars on how to best use its municipal fiber services.
- IT company Exbabylon LLC expands and recruits talent in Newport, Washington because of Pend Oreille County PUD’s fiber network.
- Millennium Capital and Recovery Corporation, a local Hudson, Ohio, business, announced the move to a new state-of-the-art headquarters to take advantage of the municipal fiber network Velocity Broadband.
“Municipal broadband can be a powerful lever against the digital divide that condemns people to the isolation and reduced economic opportunities experienced by many of our low-income, disabled, and people of color community members” – Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Councilmember
- In this Podcast, Chris speaks with Curtis Dean of Iowa Municipal Utilities about the prevalence of municipal networks in that state, focusing in on economic development results starting at 11:10. Dean highlights Hansen’s Clothing, a high-end men’s clothing manufacturer in Spencer, Iowa that expanded its online business exponentially when it connected to the municipal broadband network.
Photo courtesy of Rob Alinder through Flickr Creative Commons
- In 2010, DirecTV announced the creation of a virtual call center, allowing 100 residents in southwestern Virginia to work from home, relying solely upon municipal broadband access.
- 150 home-based English teachers in Powell, Wyoming were connected to students in South Korea by the Korean venture capital firm, Skylake Incuvest; this unorthodox pairing was made possible by Powell’s investment in FTTH.
- Policymakers in Ashland, Oregon, hope to use the city’s fiber network, Ashland Fiber Net, to support internet-based home businesses.
- The benefits of working from home are plentiful, but telecommuters need high quality next generation broadband in order to take full advantage of this arrangement.
- Danville, Virginia’s open-access municipal broadband, nDanville, has long served the Danville Regional Medical Center, one of the city’s largest employers.
- Medical companies Ohio Health and Cardinal Health; Battelle Memorial Institute, a non-profit that relies on quantum computing to encrypt information; and numerous educational facilities use Dublin, Ohio’s municipally-owned fiber network, Dublink, for their healthcare, education and research needs.