CMEDP: More good news for Craig’s economy concerning broadband | CraigDailyPress.com

CMEDP: More good news for Craig’s economy concerning broadband

Audrey Danner/For the Craig Daily Press

Audrey Danner

The good news increased this month!

We are pleased to tell you that new business contacts have increased since our first column was published last month. That’s good news for Craig Daily Press and Craig Moffat Economic Development.

The city of Craig recently asked Terry Carwile to bring together those interested in high speed telecommunications and broadband for our community. Terry has encouraged conversation between the Local Technology Planning Team, Craig Moffat Economic Development and others interested in broadband for Moffat County.

“The message to policymakers is clear: If you want to increase economic growth, focus on broadband,” once said Robert Pepper, vice president of Global Technology Policy at Cisco.

We are embarking on discussions with our local businesses, city and county government, Moffat County School District and Colorado Northwestern Community College to leverage broadband development by a private provider and to facilitate discussion between all the community institutions that can "anchor" this effort for the future. The goal is to strengthen and retain quality business and attract quality workforce interested in living in our beautiful community.

Broadband has become so critical that many now regard it as a basic infrastructure need on par with roads, water systems and energy grids. One of the biggest impediments to local government enhancing broadband or telecommunications infrastructure is a 2005 law referred to as Senate Bill 05-152. SB05-152 prohibits most uses of municipal or county monies for infrastructure to install or improve local telecommunications services to create broadband services. In the recent years 10 municipalities and three counties has passed in every jurisdiction with 60 to 94 percent approval. This addresses the support of citizens who are frustrated and want timely action on broadband service in their community.

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Moffat County has agreed to place a question on our Nov. 3 ballot for an override of SB05-152 as other governments around the state have successfully done. This is only to allow appropriate discussions with private providers to utilize our infrastructure in place currently and determine what else is needed to meet the broadband needs of Moffat County citizens, business and industry.

There are exciting plans from our neighboring Routt and Rio Blanco counties. Routt established a "carrier neutral" location to aggregate some of their telecom demand for the city of Steamboat Springs, Routt and a few other entities into one location. Aggregation of their telecom demand has lowered costs and increased the capacity available to the entities.

Rio Blanco is pursuing a well thought out design to bring fiber to the citizens and businesses in Rangely and Meeker. Blake Mobley, Rio Blanco IT director, has posted a 23 minute podcast on the Rio Blanco County web site — http://www.RBC.us — describing their process and plans to increase their telecommunications infrastructure to provision broadband. Thanks to our neighboring county leaders for offering lessons learned and ideas to encourage broadband development in a way that fits our community needs.

Our opportunity is now to create a plan that helps our community have access and choice of broadband to strengthen our economic future. CMEDP believes that the provision of fast, reliable and affordable internet will drive progress. The collaborative effort to provide broadband deployment will present diverse challenges and important opportunities for Moffat County. Now that is good news.

Audrey Danner is the executive director, Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership.

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