Fiber for Asheville: How the city you live in affects your business

[tweetmeme source="googleavl" only_single=false]Map: Where to put the Google fiber network

You are who you hang out with.

The first time I heard that line, I was in junior high.  It was a warning from an adult and sure, it’s a cliche, but I think this idea – that the quality of your peers rubs off on you – has a corollary for doing business:

The city you live in can accelerate, or limit, your potential.

Consider this quote from a Business Insider article:

“Does the city you live in really matter?

While you have a lot of good choices for where to build your company, don’t let anybody fool you into thinking that location doesn’t matter; in fact, it does. Here’s why:

  • Different locations have different entrepreneurial support communities...
  • Talent pools around location…
  • In-person meetings are just as important as they were five years ago…”

Here’s how it matters for Asheville:

  1. Asheville’s got talent.  We’d like bandwidth to match.  By selecting Asheville, Google will be partnering with a town full of kindred spirits who would like to push the technology envelope and make the world a better place.
  2. As a business owner, fiber for Asheville means our city will be attracting more technology talent in the future.  Already I can bump into local business owners, web designers, network security experts, PHP programmers, and starry eyed dreamers while waiting for a lunch table at Early Girl.  Let’s kick that up a notch.

I’d like you to do two things.

  1. If you own or work at a business that depends on Internet access, programming talent, or entrepreneurial spirit, please leave a comment below.  Consider mentioning how Asheville, as a community, is related to your success.
  2. If you haven’t nominated Asheville yet, please do so.  When the fiber network is built, you’ll benefit directly with better, faster Internet access and indirectly with even better talent to hire as your business grows.

- Clark Mackey

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13 Responses to Fiber for Asheville: How the city you live in affects your business

  1. Jim Hurst says:

    I agree with your ideas, Clark, but if I was on the selection committee, I would be asking, “Why Asheville?” Several things jump out at me. Asheville is a small city with an interesting population. It’s geographically isolated, but it serves as an artistic, medical, and recreational hub. It has vibrant food, music and visual arts scenes. Because we are a small community with a large visitor turnover, there are a lots of opportunities to for high bandwidth events. Asheville is a place lots of people like to visit in person, so there will be a lot of interest in things happening here. These factors that make us an excellent, easy to monitor test bed for Gfiber, and also a great showcase for the concept.

  2. Google Fiber would help my local web applications programming business. I’d like to be closer/faster to the cloud for backups, and to build cloud based solutions for more of my clients.

  3. Peter Brezny says:

    As an Asheville native, I’ve seen a lot of change, both good and bad come to this little gem of a community. I have no hesitation however in hoping that Google will bring fiber to Asheville. Not just because it would bolster my business work flow a great deal (enabling me to transfer vast amounts of data to and from the servers my business is based on, which although located a scant 12 miles away, are time consuming to transfer large amounts of data to and from with our current infrastructure, but because I truly believe, Asheville has a creative/progressive spirit that could change the world for the better.

    Yes, gigabit fiber would do amazing things for the business community here, but give the locals not focused on business gains a chance to share their story, streaming in high definition to the rest of the world, and there’s a chance that our somewhat ideal-community-in-many-ways might rub off on others, transforming towns that don’t currently pay attention to conservation, creativity, local workforce development, diversity, or the arts into a place their residents might actually want to stay and live (rather than moving here…).

    No doubt, fiber will eventually make it to every home in the modern world (indeed it already has in many countries far ahead of the curve than the US in tech infrastructure deployment). Where it comes first in the US, could shape how it’s used, and who benefits from it.

    Why not have it land first in a town as creative and diverse as it is friendly and forward thinking?

  4. Purse Pixie says:

    I am a fashion blogger (www.pursepixie.com) and living in a city like Asheville provides not only a wide range of styles to write about but also makes me consider things like eco-friendly clothes and beauty products that I might not otherwise be as conscious of. The extra bandwidth would make it that much easier to get this kind of information to others.

  5. Jim Hurst says:

    I filled out my nomination, and said that as an affiliate of the Asheville High Debate Team, I’d like to put together virtual debate tournaments with up to 300 concurrent video streams (2 competitors, 1 judge, 100 rounds going at once). C’mon, admit it, 300 video streams at once is a whopping bunch o’ bandwidth. And it’s kind of an emergent thing, too: I could cheaply link kids from schools in different cities or countries routinely that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

    So, yeah, Big Bandwidth is all good fun, and potentially profitable for those of us in the biz, but if I was making selections, I’d be looking for communities that want to and can pull off Things You Just Can’t Do without monster bandwidth. My debate idea of lots of video streams is actually pretty unimaginative in those terms, even if it’s for a good cause: it’s just scaling an existing and well understood app. How about massively parallel environmental monitoring, like turning on 500 microphones on at 6 AM, and trying to count the bird songs? Or setting up a bunch of RFID scanners, turning loose a bunch of tags on free t-shirts, backpacks, or screwdrivers and keeping track of hits? What kind of art projects could we come up with to chew some bandwidth? Big screens on Pack Square with realtime views of Nantahala Falls, Mt. Mitchell, Bent Creek? Helmet cams on bikes, kayaks, and frisbee dogs? I’d love to hear more ideas from the creative side. Geeks can make it happen, but we often have tunnel vision as to just what would be interesting things to make happen.

  6. JOHNNY CONNELLY says:

    I don’t know what kind of jobs it will bring for the people here already out of work. I hope all the help they hire don’t have to come from the outside.

  7. Paleo Tek says:

    Ooh ooh! The Pritchart Park Drum Cam! Exporting Our Exuberance!! Asheville, More Rhythm Than Sense.

  8. Amie Tracey says:

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned in the comment thread (though I could have missed it), is that not only does Asheville boast a truly interesting and creative population, but it also exists in a rather fragile ecosystem, being tucked into a valley which does not easily shed air pollution. As a web designer and developer, I have been saying for years that the obvious solution to this situation is to attract and encourage clean tech development in this area. It would increase the local revenue stream while not leaking toxins into our environment. Bringing fiber could be the first major step in that direction.

  9. Jack Carrier says:

    With Google’s network, Asheville could become “Fiber Valley” or “Granite Valley” of the east attracting new brain power and venture capital from places like “Silicon Valley”, drawing people looking for a better quality of life (and quality of micro-brew).

    C’mon Sergey, let’s have a beer and talk about this. You’re buying.

  10. Yes, Yes, Yes! We’ll donate our time. We are full-time Internet entrepreneurs working right out of our Kenilworth Inn apt. See you at the meeting!

  11. Jon Eggena says:

    I work for Infor Global Solutions: a $2.2 billion dollar technology firm that most people have never heard of before. I am a 15 year year veteran in software sales and have also been been part of many successful startups (one that included 5 years with VeriSign over in Mountain View, CA–one of Google’s neighbors). I work in sales from my home office in one of Asheville’s downtown neighborhoods. So, so say the least, I would be ecstatic for new & improved bandwidth.

    Some of the reasons I chose to move to Asheville:
    * Asheville acts & feels like a European city. Most people just walk or ride their bikes to town. There are wonderful side-walk cafe’s and always someone bangin’ a drum or strummin’ a 6 string…and all the shops & restaurants are all owned by mom & pop’s…not even 1 Starbucks in this wonderful place! That hooked me from the get-go!
    * You will be hard pressed to find another town with the architectural treasures that this town boasts. I can’t remember how many times I almost got in a car wreck when I first moved here just staring at all the wonderful houses & buildings that abound in this beautiful town.
    * You will be hard pressed to find another town on the East Coast that is more creative than Asheville; not to mention, there is a major ‘big city’ intelligent vibe you get from the local citizens of this town. Whether you’re at one of Asheville’s unique restaurants or at an art gallery opening or having a brew somewhere downtown, you’ll notice that everything is “handcrafted”…and, most of the time, you get to know the people who created such wonderful pieces of work…the nice part about being a small community!
    * Lastly, most people move to Asheville because they simply LOVE it. This makes for a much different vibe in a city when people aren’t relocating because of the job market or the cost of living a city offers. People just fall in love with Asheville and just decide to move here without question. Many people have to work 2 or 3 jobs just to be here…but it’s worth it to most. It’s nearly a phenomenon. It happened to me! The end result is that you have a community that is more vibrant and enjoying life.
    * This brings me to my last MAIN POINT: Asheville has the look & feel of a creative Internet city…a very intelligent-creative-vibrant group of people…but where this town is lacking is JOBS. We need BIG BANDWIDTH to help this town recruit other Internet/software companies to come here….because you can go hiking or paddling or mountain biking after you get done working vs. fighting 12 lanes of highway madness! The quality of living in Asheville is here…if you bring the bandwidth, the PEOPLE WILL COME!!!!

  12. Clark Mackey says:

    Thanks for all your comments – I wholeheartedly agree that Asheville is a nearly perfect target market for Google.

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