Daily Egyptian

Innovation expert talks Internet and economic growth

By Jacob Wiegand, @JacobWiegand_DE

More than four years ago, Google Fiber announced it would be coming to Kansas City, Kan. offering very high speed, gigabit Internet to the community.

The issue of faster Internet access is one of great concern to those in Carbondale and the surrounding region, and there could be a solution in the near future. 

Mike Brown, founder of The Brainzooming Group, was a key player in finding new and creative uses for the Google Fiber system in Kansas City as well as ways to help the community utilize their new system as a means of economic growth. Brown spoke at a luncheon speech at the Carbondale Civic Center Tuesday.

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He said bringing a program like Google Fiber into an area is only the first step in utilizing its full potential, while a community vision involving the wider public is also necessary for success.

“Economically, so often it has been about what’s right here and we’ve got to use that or what can we attract,” he said. “I think the connectivity and the faster Internet allows us to start to reach out and pull in some of those other pieces that may not be physically here, but can help drive the economy in new ways.”

Brown said this presents an opportunity to branch out and create new economic possibilities with the rest of the globe.

“There is an equivalent to Google Fiber already available within the city of Carbondale.” said Cory Draper, a technical supervisor with Frontier Communications.

Draper said this service is on a limited availability, and the company is building out the service as they go along, but there is access up to a gigabit on both the residential and business sides of Carbondale.

Draper said the process is ongoing and was not able to offer a projected time as to its completion.

“I think what we can do as telecommunications companies to be a part of the local community is to embrace this new incentive and just support it all the way,” Carol Snuffer, a local account executive for Mediacom, said. “I really think this would be very beneficial to Carbondale and other cities as it continues to grow.”

Brown said having access to this high speed Internet is an incentive for people to stay in the area and to attract people from other places as well. He said Kansas City has seen people move in from the coast, and this access attracts people who are interested in starting up new businesses.

He said there is a window where the southern Illinois region could be greatly attractive to others by adding this high speed Internet now. But, if it takes too long to update and other cities get this service earlier, those benefits will be less significant when finally updated because the access would be more commonplace in other areas.

David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, helps coordinate the Building a Creative Economy in Southern Illinois series, which brought Brown to speak on Tuesday.

Yepsen said the series is made up of speakers and workshops that focus on bringing people together to help find ways to make the community and region more attractive to people who work in the creative economy such as artists and writers.

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