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Traverse City Fiber Talks Heat UpPrint

strong cities and towns | May 4, 2017 | By Jacob Wheeler

Traverse City Fiber Talks Heat Up

Since we launched Groundwork's "New Economy project" in December, we've witnessed all sorts of inspirational stories about savvy young professionals who've moved to (or back to) Traverse City and used their skills to forge a career and impact the local scene.

We've also learned more about the challenges the Grand Traverse region faces to attract more talent and build the knowledge-based workforce of tomorrow. These hurdles — if they aren't overcome — will relegate Traverse City to a mostly seasonal, tourism-based economy. The impediments include lack of affordable housing, the need for more public transit, childcare solutions ... and better high-speed Internet.

Russ Schindler and TCNewTech are leading the charge to convince the city-owned utility Traverse City Light and Power (TCLP) to invest in citywide high-speed fiber Internet. The TCLP board of directors will meet on Tuesday, May 9, at 5:15 p.m. on the second floor of the Governmental Center on 400 South Board Ave.

We think high-speed Internet advocates, business owners and smart growth proponents should fill the room.

In an email to its supporters on May 3, TCNewTech calls on the TCLP board to 1) make a motion to place "fiber to the premise" dollars ($10 to $16 million) on the Capital Improvement Plan; 2) issue a request for proposal for the construction of a citywide dark fiber network; 3) issue a request for proposal for a third-party Internet service provider to operate the internet service to connected customers, and 4) develop an online citywide “sign-up” webpage that outlines estimated speed and pricing options for TCLP customers.

Groundwork echoes that call for action. We believe that citywide high-speed fiber Internet is critical to the economic development of the region and will help attract talented workers who will form the new economy of tomorrow.

The need for better high-speed Internet came up in numerous conversations: with One Up Web CEO Fernando Meza, who hosts his digital advertising company's servers in downstate Southfield; TCNewTech founder Russell Schindler; entrepreneur and startup investor Casey Cowell, and drone developer Christian Smith.

Here's more from TCNewTech about how citizens can encourage TCLP to instigate high-speed fiber Internet: "If you are a city resident and a TCL&P customer or work at or own a business that is, we encourage you to take a few minutes right now and write your own e-mail or letter to the Executive Director and each individual Board Member voicing your support for this project and encouraging the Board to move forward. The names and emails of the Executive Director and the Board members are listed below."

It's important that the TCL&P Board understand that there is overwhelming support for this project. They need to know that everyone agrees that the future economic development of the area, beyond tourism, is dependent on this vital modern infrastructure. Encourage them to support the motion below and to move forward with the project.

 

TCL&P Executive Director

Tim Arends - tarends@tclp.org

TCL&P Board Members

Jeff Palisin - jeffpc@normicind.com

Ross Hammersley - ross.hammersley@gmail.com

Jan Geht  - geht@traverselaw.com

John Taylor - john.a.taylor@gmail.com

Patrick McGuire City  - patmcguire.tc@gmail.com

Amy Shamroe - ashamroe@traversecitymi.gov

Tim Werner - twerner@traversecitymi.gov