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Wired and inspired: economic benefit of fiber-to-the-premises investment.

FORT WAYNE IS ONE OF the first cities in the Midwest to have fiber-optic broadband services for households, small businesses and schools. We are a wired and inspired city that uses broadband to change lives. We are making fiber-to-the-premises an important component of innovative business investments that will make Fort Wayne a technology and business leader.

The economic benefits of fiber-to-the-premises technology are profound. Broadband makes Fort Wayne more competitive in the global economy. Our local economy is strong, but we must be ready to meet the challenges of the future. Business leaders will want to make investments in Fort Wayne because of our fiber-to-the-premises capability

An example is Raytheon. In August, Raytheon announced it will add more than 60 new jobs to its Fort Wayne facility. One of the main reasons is fiber. "We're updating our bandwidth to match the capability that was done with Verizon. That bandwidth infrastructure was an enabling element to us to put this investment here," Wayne Iurillo, Raytheon site manager, said in the August 25, 2005, edition of The News-Sentinel.

A September 2005 study by the MIT Communications Futures Program finds communities where mass-market broadband was available experiencing rapid growth in jobs, number of businesses as well as businesses in IT-intensive sectors. The study shows property values are higher in areas with broadband availability National data supports the conclusion that broadband positively affects economic activity.

We are experiencing economic growth in Fort Wayne. More than $450 million has been invested in the urban core this year. The Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance has assisted us in retaining 16,000 jobs and gaining 4,000 jobs in the last four years.

Fort Wayne is using an "Innovation Initiative" to support new business development and job creation. The initiative includes innovators forums for creative people to come together and develop ideas for making Fort Wayne the most digital city in the country. A seed-capital fund has been established at the new Northeast Indiana Innovation Center to help startup technology companies make a difference in the region.

We have created iTeams to promote innovation and investment. A NetLiteracy iTeam is empowering young people to increase computer availability and Internet literacy for underserved youth, families and seniors. A hearing-impaired iTeam is working to bring greater independence to the deaf and hearing-impaired community by developing a video relay service on a broadband network. A virtual medicine eye iTeam is working to provide real-time diagnosis for diabetic patients with possible retinal problems. Each team also is examining ways to deal with digital-divide challenges.

Additional teams will improve services in health-care information systems, intelligent-transportation tools, public safety, online learning, advanced manufacturing and library services. The Innovation Center provides training for iTeams. The training sessions include how to think outside of the box, idea management and process facilitation, business planning and commercialization.

Education is critical. Fort Wayne is the first community in Indiana to provide all schools with broadband. The Allen County Education Network (ACEnet) connects 87 schools, 3,000 teachers and 54,000 students. Broadband uses for education are limitless.

We are making strides to be wired and inspired.
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Title Annotation:VIEWPOINT
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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