For a Robust Future

The current hot question is, “Who’s Shaping the Coast’s future?” Perhaps the question is more aptly – WHAT is shaping the Coast’s future? Supervisor Smith sees “broadband (or high speed Internet, which makes dialup look like the Pony Express) communication infrastructure development as critical in the planning process”. One only needs to do an Internet search on “broadband economic success stories” to get a plethora of confirming information.

Ashland, Oregon, is one of those success stories. Joseph Franell, Director of Information Technologies, says that the presence of advanced broadband services in Ashland has spurred “tremendous economic health’. Business license growth has increased more than 32% since its inception in 1997 and he feels it due largely to the ability to do business online. He feels that without broadband services, a city is economically marginalized. With it, large, small and home-based businesses have a more level playing field from which to compete for a fair share of the market, which now can be across the street or across the globe. This can translate into a significant opportunity for Mendocino County’s economy, without having to burn precious fuel. Telecommuting is the wave of the future. People of the new telecommunication nomadic society could live here in paradise, be connected to the world and work anywhere!

One of the major benefits of having reliable broadband is equality of opportunity for rural businesses and individuals to have the same information and resources provided online to urban residents. A county-wide cable or fiber infrastructure would make our currently unserved or underserved areas more attractive to not only businesses that need online technology but also potential residents who already depend on it as a basic necessity of life, just like electricity, gas and water. It could be critical to shaping a bright future for the children.

Rural electrification and the interstate highway system were major national infrastructure investments that helped to make the 20th century economic boom possible. The construction of a universally accessible Internet highway will be similarly important to having a robust 21st century economy in Mendocino. Currently, high speed Internet availability is limited in this largely rural County. Those who recognize its importance, need and want it must let their voices be heard by all levels of government, and be willing to support it financially.

This is the first in a series of articles from the Mendocino Coast Broadband Alliance. Comments are welcomed by Shirley Freriks at PO Box 12, Albion 95410. MCBA website under construction.

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