Lafayette, Louisiana is one community among hundreds that are building publicly owned, broadband networks to ensure their communities will thrive in the 21st century. They fought years of legal battles and are now deploying one of the fastest networks in the country — and keeping prices affordable.
Lafayette’s Chamber of Commerce supported the city throughout and is now finding ways that it will be able to leverage the network. Being accountable to the community that owns it, the network is open for innovative ideas from anyone. The network is not yet finished, but the Chamber is already excited to a promotional initiative.
The chamber will begin a monthly forum series to explore broadband-based economic development opportunities in three target sectors: health care, retail and education. “Lafayette has garnered national attention on many of the ‘good’ lists as a ‘creative class’ haven,” says chamber President/CEO Rob Guidry. “However, what has gotten us to this point will not be sufficient to propel it to even greater success. The chamber is convening interested parties to draw a picture of what that winning community of the future would look like.” Bizzuka’s John Munsell and Copy & Camera’s Howard Chaney are working with the chamber to develop these programs. This is great news. In last month’s column, I wrote about a local entrepreneur with international connections named Ethan Jordan, who seeks investment for a pilot program in three Lafayette Parish public schools for his high-tech model for the 21st century classroom. Since then, I’ve learned about the work of Dr. Robert Slater at UL, whose high-tech immersion learning environment is based on a modest $25,000-per-classroom investment into computers, color printers, a projector and speakers. Both versions encourage learning through student collaboration in research teams that report their results in classroom presentations. Both also deserve a broader audience.
Owning the network means you do not have to seek permission for innovative uses.