When Aristotle made that now-famous statement, he knew that the order and arrangement of components meant more than each of its parts as stand-alone units. Just think about any piece of technology that the parts can’t do anything on their own — yet once combined with other parts become something previously unimaginable. That might be an apt description of the increased power of businesses and organizations working together for a common good.
The Franklin County Development Council is working to put together a consortium of major stakeholders to support the infrastructure expense associated with solving the problem of providing broadband Internet access to major industry and other related organizations. Many of those businesses and groups have waited more than 20 years for the services to become available here. While AT&T expanded its residential services with U-Verse for portions of the local residential market, it doesn’t provide the needed heavy data-laden online demands of industry that need real-time online transfer of data and communications.
The development council has been advocating the expansion of the City of Ottawa’s utilities to include broadband to better service existing industry and to attract others with demanding online data needs — precisely the kind of industry this community wants to attract. Those who have heard the plea include the City of Ottawa, Franklin County, Ransom Memorial Hospital, the Ottawa school district, Ottawa University and one entity that really sings this solution’s praises, Neosho County Community College. Those anchors can ensure the broadband network is financially self-sustaining with no increased dependence on taxpayers.
Neosho benefits from the City of Chanute’s initiative eight years ago to build a broadband infrastructure in that southeast Kansas community. Chanute’s effort was out of necessity because the services weren’t offered sufficiently, so the city offered it to residential, commercial and industrial customers. Though that program is working well, the same idea isn’t necessary here because residential broadband needs are offered by several vendors — though many residents living north of K-68 would say their needs are not yet being met, either.
The City of Ottawa already has broadband fiber installed across the city to service existing needs, so the initial phase of expanding its network might cost as little as $150,000, which could provide a payback in as little as three to five years. That is an example of what can happen when the focus is on “we” instead of “me,” and it can happen as soon as the next calendar year. Crafting a community network of broadband services can improve service levels and help attract industry to a new industrial park and aid existing industries starving for adequate broadband service in the existing industrial park.
The community could sit back and wait and see what technology comes its way, or it can assure its own destiny by seizing the opportunity to improve needed services without putting an additional burden on taxpayers. By having each partner focus on the greater good rather than only their own short-term gain — or savings — everyone can gain more in the long-term and increase the sum of its collective parts.
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