WCA Begins Roundtable Discussions to Get Business and Community Feedback
According to real estate developer Alex Twining, “In ten years, if we don’t have gigabit, we won’t survive.” Twining was referring to super-speed broadband, now a key component of Smart Growth, which the WCA has been championing to bring greater prosperity and a live.work.play. lifestyle to Westchester. On April 4th, Twining and thirty other business leaders attended the first community roundtable at Monroe College Barnes & Noble Bookstore in New Rochelle, organized by the WCA. This important meeting addressed “Gigabit Westchester”, a public-private partnership with Westchester’s four largest cities -- Yonkers, New Rochelle, White Plains, and Mt. Vernon...
The meeting opened with Mayor Noam Bramson describing the initiative as a monumental community effort to modernize the digital infrastructure and making the businesses of New Rochelle remain competitive for the next 30 years. He, along with the mayors of Yonkers, White Plains and Mt. Vernon signed the Smart Growth ComPACT, spearheaded by the WCA, to collaborate on various economic development issues. Half of Westchester’s population lives in the four cities, which will be attractive to future broadband providers. “We plan to make the broadband RFP process highly competitive,” notes Joan McDonald, Strategic Advisor to the WCA, “as access and affordability are key.”
The room was filled with business leaders, developers, investors, and interested parties from healthcare, higher education, hospitality, and entertainment sectors, many of whom offered thoughtful insight and valuable input.
“I get excited about gigabit-speed broadband because that digital infrastructure benefits everyone in the region,” said Clive Henry, of Adobe Systems and member of the Gigabit Steering Committee. “In the future, all industries are pointing to a more remote work environment, which gigabit will make possible.”
Bruce Berg,of Cappelli Enterprises stated“Gigabit will benefit STEM education because it will allow schools to connect to research universities in real time.”
McDonald explained that the four cities and the WCA were currently in the planning stages. They plan to issue an RFP for a national consultant to assess “what’s in the ground” and future needs. The planning stage will be followed in about two years by the implementation stage, which she estimates could cost anywhere from $200 million to $750 million, and will probably be paid for by a public-private partnership. “We’re looking into federal and state funding, but the providers also will have to come to the table,” she said. Many more roundtable discussions are slated in each of the four cities in upcoming weeks..