LeBron James is not the only fast thing in Cleveland these days.
Cleveland officials announced the city plans to create the nation’s first commercially available metropolitan 100-gigabit network that aims to attract businesses to the shores of Lake Erie.
“Health technology is an important, prominent and promising industry within the City of Cleveland,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a statement. “With the announcement of this 100 gigabit network,” Jackson said Cleveland is establishing itself “as a center for innovation, while providing our area businesses with a competitive advantage that will allow more job opportunities to be created for residents.”
The project is possible thanks to a $700,000 grant from the federal government’s Economic Development Administration, part of the Commerce Department. The project, in total, will cost $1.02 million with the city and OneCommunity, a nonprofit focused on expanding Internet connectivity in northeastern Ohio, picking up the rest of the tab.
“EDA is pleased to invest in the strong regional collaboration being led by the City of Cleveland and OneCommunity to establish a network that will connect the Health-Tech Corridor,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams in the release. “This public/private partnership will drive innovation and job creation for the City and regional businesses to support entrepreneurs and advance the region’s reputation as a destination for innovation.”
Construction of the 100-gigabit network will begin in early 2015 with the hopes of being completed in the early summer. The network will connect a number of buildings throughout the Cleveland’s Health-Tech Corridor to Case Western Reserve University and its surrounding University Circle area.
The Health-Tech Corridor is a major part of the project. The goal of the HTC is to establish the region as a prime location for attracting and growing health and technology businesses, while demonstrating that focused communitywide collaboration rooted in market fundamentals can redevelop the urban core.
The 100-gigabit network could act as a marketing tool, bringing in businesses that would generate valuable tax revenue.
Connectivity continues to be seen as a major economic driver for state and local governments as there is an arms race for jurisdictions to be able to provide businesses and residents with the highest of Internet speeds.
The belief is that with top Internet speeds, businesses and residents have an incentive to stay in the area and still remain connected to the digital world. That is especially important in areas like Cleveland – part of the nation’s manufacturing belt that was hit hardest during the recession – and rural areas that traditionally do not have the infrastructure in place to offer competitive Internet speeds.
“Offering the first 100 gigabit capability, specifically in the Health-Tech Corridor,” provides incentives for “local and national fast-growing companies to locate and remain here,” said OneCommunity CEO Lev Gonick in the release.