About a year ago, the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association attended a Broadband Communities Economic Development Conference in Danville, Va. At about the same time, we were negotiating contracts here for fiber broadband construction.
Now, just a year later, much of that construction is complete. And, after hearing about our work to bring fiber to the Southland, Broadband Communities is bringing the conference to the Tinley Park Convention Center, one of our new key anchor sites in the fiber network.
“Building on the success of our first regional conference on broadband and economic development last November in Danville, Broadband Communities will host its second regional conference in Chicago on Nov. 5-7, 2013,” said conference Chairman Jim Baller. “The conference will focus on the extraordinary experiences of dozens of communities in America's Midwestern heartland, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.”
During the conference, the new fiber network is scheduled to go live Nov. 6 at the convention center in a special lighting or ribbon-cutting ceremony. That's following a keynote address by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a leading advocate of broadband, open data and advanced technology. He also will be recognized with a special "Gigabits for Growth” award.
Another conference highlight includes the Chicago Southland Fiber Network story. The CSFN project is a collaboration among state and local agencies, including SSMMA, Cook County, the state of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Transportation, to link infrastructure in south suburban Cook County through a fiber optic backbone bordering the Interstate 57 corridor.
The conference also will feature an array of other broadband workshops and panels including education and distance learning, telemedicine, precision agriculture, municipal and public safety initiatives, financing networks, using broadband to create jobs, helping small and medium businesses grow with fiber and more.
For years, SSMMA worked with its 42 member municipalities to improve economic and community development in the region. The lack of high-speed fiber-based broadband has long been viewed as an impediment for institutions and businesses to choose to locate or expand their presence in the Southland.
Beginning in February 2012, the I-57 fiber cable was installed in partnership with the state of Illinois, Central Managed Services.
Fiber optic cable construction will continue through the fall to finish linking sites all the way from University Park, connecting Governors State University, Richton Park, SouthCom Joint Dispatch in Matteson, and continuing on to locations in Dixmoor, Blue Island and the Markham courthouse, reaching more than 30 facilities in communities bordering I-57. The project is scheduled to be completed by January.
The conference, which will be held two months prior to that, will not only be a place to learn and network with others throughout the Midwest, but also an event to celebrate our region's extraordinary efforts at investment in our future and economic recovery.