Infrastructure Committee: Downtown Hyannis broadband

In June, the Infrastructure Committee was once again joined by Felicia Penn, who brought Jeannine Marshall, President of Coastal Community Capital to the meeting.

The meeting was devoted to Downtown Hyannis making an “Innovation Zone” with fiber/ WiFi as part of the economic development plan. Felicia had come to the meeting we had in May, with concerns and thoughts about the Hyannis Growth Incentive Zone (GIZ) Reenactment.

The project hasn’t gotten to the stage of discussing funding yet, however Jeannine was able to give examples of Coastal Community Capital’s work with the Town of Barnstable. They provide loans to eligible businesses – businesses located in Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas with 5 or fewer employees which create or retain at least one job as a result of the funds. She said the town is looking to generate additional economic activity in this area, and have some funds left from the first round of lending.

For those who were not present in May, Felicia reminded the group that broadband – the catalyst to building a year round economy – is missing from the GIZ plan for downtown Hyannis . They have all the other public utilities, but not IT infrastructure. While the town has Barnstable Fiber Optic Network connecting public offices, libraries, and others, they do not want to be in the utility business.

Open Cape already has a good deal of fiber in place within the GIZ, which includes 20 miles of streets, and is in a good position to do a wireless project. Wireless could segue into connecting fiber – as successfully done in Greenfield, MA.

The committee agreed that the project needs three things to start work: A driven and respected leader to get the community interested; a group to look at what funds are available, including state, federal and private; and a group to focus on the technology. The Leadership group would build the subscriber base, and coalesce the other two groups.

The group believes IT infrastructure in the downtown area is a public utility. “With the right connectivity,” one member noted, “they can have anything.”

A subcommittee to carry on the discussions will meet on Wednesday, June 27th at 9am at the Innovation Room at Open Cape.

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