Businesses across the county should make it a point to attend an upcoming broadband symposium to gain insights as to how improved Internet speeds can help them and what needs to be done to move this technology forward in Carroll.
When the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce surveyed members about their needs, broadband was among the top concerns. The symposium is being organized by the Carroll Technology Council and the lineup of speakers will provide insights into where we are now and where we could go in the future.
One speaker is J. Ed Marston of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. Last year Chattanooga completed a high-speed fiber project which has provided residents and businesses with faster and cheaper Internet access. That project was sparked by the publically owned electric utility needing better connectivity in order to utilize benefits associated with smart grid technology.
Also in the symposium lineup are representatives from Carroll schools, government and economic development, who can share information on the county's broadband fiber optic network. That network connects schools, libraries and government offices, as well as a few businesses that have signed on, but the network has a lot of available capacity that could be tapped into.
Despite growth in recent decades, Carroll remains largely rural, and access to broadband remains limited. Businesses that aren't able to connect and quickly service customers online are losing out, and as more and more areas do improve their technology, those that don't will be left behind.
Carroll has always struggled to attract the high-paying jobs, which is why more than half of our workforce commutes outside the county each day. In years past, having access to actual paved roads so businesses could get products and services to customers quickly and easily was a top priority. That's still important to a lot of businesses, but increasingly they need high-speed access on the Internet highway in order to compete and grow. Growing local businesses also depends on their ability to serve customers.
The symposium should provide residents and business owners with information concerning what is currently available in the county, as well as what needs to be done to take us to the next level.
No tickets for the Oct. 8 event at Carroll Community College will be sold at the door. Those wishing to attend need to register online (there is a $10 cost) by Sept. 30 at carrolltechcouncil.org.