grant to put cle on the tech map with 100 gigabit internet

OneCommunity and the City of Cleveland have announced their plans to install a 100 gigabit-per-second glass fiber internet pipe along the Health-Tech Corridor (HTC) in Midtown. Currently, the fastest internet in the area is 40 gigabits. 

While major research universities like CWRU and Ohio State are networked through 100 gigabit systems, the city's new high-speed internet will be the first and fastest of its kind in any major metropolitan area available for commercial use. Any office building along the network, such as the Global Center for Health Innovation and BioEnterprise, would have access to the high speed service.
The large, above-ground “nodes” will be located at Ideastream at Playhouse Square and CWRU at University Circle. The network would run between the two nodes and tributaries would run off of Euclid to serve other pockets in the HTC.
The growth of big data in today's economy means that there is demand for the movement of more information at a significantly faster pace. This is especially true for companies involved with healthcare, technology and research. The hope is that the 100 gigabit network will be a big boost to Cleveland’s economic development and will help to attract high-tech businesses to the city.
The $1.02 million project comes from a $714,000 grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), $200,000 from the city and the remaining funds from OneCommunity. The HTC and CWRU are also partners in the project. Work is to begin on the project in early 2015, with completion scheduled for September.
“We can’t even begin to imagine the possibilities that 100 gigabit can initiate,” says Lev Gonick, CEO of OneCommunity, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing accessible high speed broadband to the region. “Harnessing the potential of this connectivity means our research and development possibilities are endless.”
The city and OneCommunity decided to apply for the EDA grant to boost Cleveland’s draw to technology companies considering moving here.
“One of the things we were noticing was places across the country were looking at bandwidth to attract companies,” explains Tracey Nichols, Cleveland economic development director. “We thought, what could we do to help us be more competitive? So we reached out to OneCommunity. We know big data is huge in the tele-tech, medical, and IT industries and we wondered how we can make Cleveland the leading edge for these trends.”
Nichols points out that even the growing film industry in Cleveland will find a 100 gigabit network to be an asset in transmitting edits, film and other large files. “No other place in the country is making a municipal network available to commercial businesses,” she says. “If they have a need for it, we can tie them in. We think it’s really going to bring a lot of attention to Cleveland, especially in medicine and IT.”
Nichols says the decision to invest in big data also shows Mayor Frank Jackson’s support for business in Cleveland. “To me it says a lot about Mayor Jackson,” she says. “As director of economic development, to walk in and say the future of medicine is big data and customized medicine and have Mayor Jackson say, ‘you’re right, let’s do it’ is really exciting to me.”

Jay Williams, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and former mayor of Youngstown, will be in town today to talk about the impact of the project. “We’re excited about the investment that was made in the city of Cleveland,” he says. “A 100 gigabit broadband is a significant step in Cleveland emerging as a global leader and shedding that rust belt moniker that has plagued Cleveland and other cities for so long.”

Furthermore, Williams says this project is a good example of the city’s willingness to collaborate and work together for the greater good of the businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators. The move will also help the blighted and impoverished areas that exist in the area. “This is about the ability to attract global investment,” he says. “By solidifying its position as a globally competitive city, it brings together more communities to bring down costs, lower the barriers to entry.”

Today's press conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Explorys, a spinoff company out of the Cleveland Clinic that specializes in healthcare big data. Speakers include Mayor Jackson, Williams,  Gonick, John Foley, CIO of University Hospitals, and Stephen McHale, founder and CEO of Explorys.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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