EAST LANSING, MI - Bringing 1-gigabit per second ultra-high-speed broadband internet service to mid-Michigan will be an important economic development tool for the region, local officials said today during a news conference at the Prima Civitas Foundation (PCF). PCF, a statewide economic development nonprofit, is leading the coordinated effort to make the Greater Lansing region a "Gig.U" community.
The Greater Lansing Gig.U project is part of a national effort called The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, or "Gig.U." Gig.U asked university communities from across the country to invite private sector companies to bring next-generation networks and services to their communities as a tool to attract knowledge economy companies and talent.
"Widespread dissemination of ultra-high-speed broadband service can leverage the extraordinary assets that Michigan State University and other key players in our community already offer," said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. "Our community leaders should be applauded for working together to ensure that businesses and innovators have access to the tools that are essential to remain competitive in a 21st century knowledge economy."
PCF is currently meeting with local high-speed internet providers to determine which barriers, if reduced or eliminated, would entice private providers to invest in expanding high speed broadband networks in the region. PCF will then work with local municipalities to address barriers such as lengthy permitting procedures and restrictions on new broadband installation techniques. In addition, the Greater Lansing Gig.U initiative will also continue to raise awareness of the availability of high-speed service in the region, with an eye toward expanding such service throughout the community by increasing demand.
Several local areas have been identified as potential early adopters of ultra-high-speed internet due to their significant numbers of health care, engineering, and high-tech companies. These locations include:
Downtown Lansing, the East Saginaw Street corridor, and East Lansing on and near the MSU campus.
The Capital Region International Airport "Aerotropolis" area.
The University Corporate Research Park at Collins and Forest roads, home to several bio-tech and other high tech businesses.
South Lansing spots near Cedar Street and I-96, where engineering and office operations are located.
Parts of the Hagadorn and Okemos roads corridors, home to many medical, engineering and other office complexes.
"Widespread ultra-high-speed access to the Internet would help attract new businesses to the region as well as make our existing companies more globally competitive," said Jeff Smith, Co-Director of the New Economy Division at LEAP. "Widespread gigabit per second connectivity in Greater Lansing will help make Mid-Michigan a beacon for entrepreneurs and innovators looking to launch their new ideas and products."
"East Lansing is pleased to be working with our neighboring communities to help pave the way for delivery of increasingly high-speed internet service. Becoming a Gig.U community would really be a great marketing tool to put our region on the map for knowledge industry business attraction," noted East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett.
PCF's CEO Steve Webster said Gig.U fits into the region's economic development transformation toward a knowledge economy.
"We sit in a region moving fast to compete with the world. Insurance and finance, information technology, health care, state government, post secondary education, advanced manufacturing, and agri-business are leading a rebound across our region; this project would accelerate the pace and the diversity of the rebound.
"If our region wants to be a leader transforming to a 'young, smart and global' place that attracts young talent and young businesses hungry to use that talent, we need to embrace the Gig.U platform and make it as easy as possible for companies to deliver ultra-high-speed broadband across the region," notes Webster.
PCF created the Greater Lansing Gig.U Executive Committee to provide guidance and leadership necessary to move this initiative forward. Committee members include the Capital Area IT Council, City of East Lansing, Connect Michigan, Lansing Area Economic Partnership, Lansing Economic Development Corporation, Meridian Township Economic Development Corporation, Michigan State University, and the Prima Civitas Foundation.
For more information about the Gig.U initiative, please visit: http://primacivitas.org/Our-Work/Innovation/Gig.U.