Urban planning works. That is the lesson of Curitiba, which has engaged in proactive planning for its future for nearly 40 years. While other Brazilian cities welcomed heavy industry, Curitiba accepted only non-polluters and developed an industrial district with so much green space that it was derided as a “golf course” until it filled up with more than 3,500 companies. Beginning in the 1970s, the master plan laid out streets, public transportation, shopping, industrial and residential areas. Today, clean water reaches 100% and sanitation 93% of the population, and the city offers a range of services still rare in emerging market nations: municipal healthcare, education and daycare networks, neighborhood libraries, and sports and culture facilities near mass transport terminals.
Curitiba has established a total of 9 entrepreneurial spaces throughout the city through a partnership with SEBRAE (Brazilian Service to Support Micro and Small Enterprises). These public offices provide guidance and consultation to local citizens interested in starting new businesses, including training and qualification programs. In 2018, the entrepreneurial spaces hosted nearly 60,000 citizens, with 2,500 completing qualification courses. Curitiba looks to top these numbers in 2019 with 50,000 attendees as of August and over 2,000 qualifications completed. The spaces received a Customer Service Reference Award in 2018 for their successes.
Promoting Citizen Engagement with the Curitiba App
In March of 2018, the city launched the Curitiba App, a mobile application that provides citizens and tourists with information, services, events and news from City Hall. The app combines the utilities of several smaller existing apps as well as 600 City Hall services. Through the Curitiba App, citizens can quickly and easily access local news, weather alerts and public transit information as well as book appointments with public services. As of late 2019, the app had been downloaded by 13,000, and the city hopes to double this number in the coming years.
Green Energy and Transit
City buses travel in separate lanes from the rest of traffic and provide electronic ticketing for riders and fleet management via 3G mobile broadband. Curitiba's next goal is to translate its success in economic development into the broadband economy. An open access fiber network serves the city and much of the state, ensuring high levels of service to business. In keeping with Brazil's National Broadband Plan, the city is deploying a wireless overlay to provide free Internet access in low-income neighborhoods. The city has developed Curitiba Technoparque to turn the intellectual output of its 55 colleges and universities into innovative technologies.
Curitiba is developing multiple studies and projects to produce and implement clean energy in public buildings and public transportation. The city has installed a small hydroelectric plant in Barigui park to supply energy to the park, a project that will be replicated in other parks across the city. With the support of C40-CFF, the city is also developing projects to implement solar panels in four bus terminals and the new sustainable Caximba Neighborhood. The total expected generated power is 8 MW, with expected generation of 980,000 kWh/year (equivalent to the consumption of about 65,000 families). The Curitiba Housing Company is also currently implementing a pilot project to build social housing with solar panels.
From 2008 to 2009, Curitiba grew its high-tech companies by 7% and high-tech employment by 25%. Developments like these have given Curitiba an average per-capita income that is 86% higher than that of Brazil.
Smart21 2011 | 2012 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021
In the middle of the 20th Century, Winston-Salem had a global reputation for producing a product whose use is now being banned worldwide. The product is tobacco, and its trajectory is a fair measure of the path of Winston-Salem's industrial economy, which thrived on a mix traditional to the American South of tobacco, textiles and manufacturing. All three play a role in the economy today, but none are positioned to deliver sustainable growth.
In the mid-1990s, Wake Forest University began work on a plan to connect its medical school and undergraduate campuses with a high-speed network, which ultimately resulted in a 26-mile fiber-optic ring around Winston-Salem. The university's vice president of finance and administration, Dr. John Anderson, saw the potential to use this new asset for community development. He coordinated a series of leadership meetings that, with the active support of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, created an informal working group including the top government, institutional and educational users of communications.
In 1997, they dubbed themselves WinstonNet and, a year later, staged a demonstration at a local school - attended by North Carolina's members of Congress - of video collaboration and multimedia teaching tools. In 1999, WinstonNet won a US Department of Education grant in partnership with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools to connect the school system to the fiber ring and the fiber ring to the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), a nonprofit, statewide network of educational institutions. Once construction was completed, the school system gained access to the Internet at the blazing speed of 155 Mbps. In the same year, WinstonNet incorporated as a nonprofit organization, with members including the city, the county, the school system, Wake Forest and its subsidiaries, the Chamber of Commerce and the local community college. Each member paid an annual service fee for use of the network, which was now called WinstonNet. Wake Forest began to earn a return on its investment and the members gained some of the best broadband access in the world at a very competitive cost.
Citizens benefited, too. Institutional and public investment spurred demand for broadband and the private-sector investment needed to deliver it. Today, 88% of households in Winston-Salem subscribe to broadband via DSL, cable, fiber, wireless and satellite, as well as 100% of government offices and nearly every business. Carriers including AT&T, Sprint, Time Warner Telecom, ITC Deltacom and DukeNet provide speeds ranging from 256 Kbps for US$20 per month up to 8 Mbps for $55.
But the nonprofit WinstonNet was about much more than connectivity. Its real purpose was to enable Winston-Salem's transition from a manufacturing to knowledge-based economy. The WinstonNet Board believed that the community's future lay in services, logistics and biotechnology, which would place heavy demands on education and training to overcome not only the community's industrial legacy but fast growth in the immigrant population. North Carolina experienced a 37% increase in its immigrant population from 2000 to 2006, by which time Spanish speakers made up 7% of the total.
WinstonNet developed a three-pronged strategy to attack the problem. In 2003, the organization dedicated its first Community Computer Lab at a recreation center. Over the next year, it opened a total of 30 sites offering free computer access to children and adults, with Wake Forest University and Forsyth Technical Community College leading the project and Microsoft and Cisco Foundation providing funding. Today, there are 44 labs operating in community centers, churches, schools and libraries, managing more than 3,500 email accounts and logging over 75,000 user sessions per year.
In 2005, WinstonNet partnered with One Economy, a national nonprofit, using a grant from Cisco, to build a community Web portal. The Beehive Web portal was launched in 2006. With content in English and Spanish at a 5th grade reading level, the portal provides information on money, health, jobs, family, immigration, taxes, government services and computer training and support. The library system has taken responsibility for maintaining the portal, which according to One Economy, is now number three in the nation for the most "hits" to a community Web portal.
In 2006, WinstonNet put the last piece in place through a partnership with Forsyth County Libraries that created a sustainable computer training program. A three-year grant from state government permitted WinstonNet to hire a full-time coordinator, who has created a volunteer group of 40+ trainers, created a standard curriculum of courses and developed a certification program. Classes are taught in both English and Spanish. In its first year, the program completed 189 classes with total attendance of just under 1,000 people. WinstonNet is now developing, in partnership with a local nonprofit, a set of classes for visually impaired and physically challenged computer users as well.
While working to raise the skills level of the entire community, WinstonNet has also contributed to technology and economic development. In 2002, WinstonNet became North Carolina's first Regional High Speed Networking Hub (GigaPoP), boosting Internet connection speeds to 622 Mbps. In 2007, WinstonNet switched on a proof-of-concept WiFi network covering 1 square mile (2.5 km2) as a first step in creating what the organization calls "ubiquitous access to knowledge and information for everyone." Wireless Winston is a new public-private partnership backed by anchor tenancy agreements with the top employers in the community. Its goals are to reduce telecom costs, enhance education, improve student-teacher-parent communication and improve public health and safety.
In 2004, Targacept, a biopharmaceutical company spun out from R.J. Reynolds, joined WinstonNet in a cooperative program to demonstrate state-of-the-art "grid computing" in local schools. WinstonNet is now exploring development of a supercomputing center to be housed at the Piedmont Triad Community Research Park, where Wake Forest is constructing a high-performance data center. This research park, anchored in Winston-Salem's historic downtown business district, will provide 5.7 million square feet (529,547 m2) of "green" commercial space for life science research on land donated to the city by R.J. Reynolds. It is being developed by another public-private partnership called Idealliance and is currently home to five buildings including the Biotechnology Research Facility of Wake Forest University Health Sciences.
Other public and public-private organizations are adding momentum to the development process. The Piedmont Triad Entrepreneurial Network was formed in 2004 to offer programs and resources to fast-growing small businesses in the areas of education, mentoring, networking and capital formation. Wake Forest is developing the Angell Center for Entrepreneurship as an incubator housing 3-5 start-ups at a time for up to 12 months. Among its tenants will be winners of the Triad Entrepreneurial Initiative's annual business plan competition.
In addition to actively supporting these efforts, the city of Winston-Salem has deployed ICT to improve its services. In 2007, it opened a Citizen Contact Center providing one telephone number for access to all city services. Greater convenience for citizens resulted in a significant reduction in total call volume as more service requests were satisfied on the first call. The MyCityofWS service allows citizens to establish a profile on the City's Web site that defines their interests and location, so they can be notified by email of relevant new information. The fire department uses a wireless dispatch system with data routing and imaging, which has helped the department exceed standards for response time and effectiveness.
How does Winston-Salem measure the results of its many investments and partnerships? There have certainly been economic successes. Winston-Salem and Forsyth County now count 37,000 biotech employees as residents, and biotech companies contribute an estimated $10 billion in annual revenue to the area. Dell Computer opened a manufacturing facility in Forsyth County in 2005 that will create another 1,500 jobs and contribute at least $100 million in new investment. But Winston-Salem also measures progress in human terms. WinstonNet is now in discussions with the school district and community leaders on development of a program to place computers in the homes of low-income students. The program proposal covers funding, curriculum integration, teacher training, technical staffing, hardware and broadband connections. If WinstonNet is successful in attracting funding, as it expects, the program will start in 2008/09 with 550 students in middle schools with high percentages of low-income students. Success, then, is measured not only in today's jobs. It is also measured by the community's ability to build a more prosperous and inclusive Broadband Economy for tomorrow's citizens.
Population: 223,000 (Winston-Salem), 320,919 (Forsyth County)
Labor Force: 183,742 (Forsyth County)
Westchester County is a 500-square-mile (1295 km2) region, with a population of just under one million, located at a geographic and demographic crossroads. It lies between New York City on its southern border and the state's relatively rural "upstate" region to the north. Known for some of America's wealthiest commuter towns, Westchester is also home to a fast-growing immigrant and low-income population, today making up about 35% of the total. Its workforce of nearly half a million people generates an impressive 10% of all US patents.
Crossroads, of course, are traditionally hubs of commerce. Under the leadership of County Executive Andrew Spano, Westchester has taken major strides to keep its geographic and demographic advantages relevant in the Broadband Economy.
Broadband and Quality of Life
The county has long considered quality of life to be its strongest advantage in attracting middle and upper-income residents and competitive employers. Its Intelligent Community strategy has focused on maintaining this intangible but essential element.
Mr. Spano came to office in 1998 with the belief that the county's future would depend heavily on telecommunications. Aside from a cluster of corporate headquarters nicknamed "The Platinum Mile," the county had fallen behind most of the areas with which it competed for people and jobs. Discussions with major telecom carriers made it clear that they were far more interested in winning competitive battles in New York City than investing in Westchester. The county's response was to conceive the Westchester Telecom Network, a multi-gigabit fiber backbone that now extends over 800 miles (1287 km) into every corner of the county. Its development was made possible by collaboration. The county government worked with 43 local governments, an independent library system, major hospitals and dozens of school and water districts to pool communication budgets worth $50 million over five years. This long and intensive effort provided all the incentive needed for a cable TV company, Cablevision Lightpath, to build the network. Losing customers worth $50 million per year also sparked the interest of the region's carriers, which subsequently built and lit three OC192 (9900 Mbps) fiber rings within the county to create one of the best local telecom infrastructures in the United States. Today, residential and business customers can select from broadband options ranging from 768 kbps for $15 up to 50 mbps for $90 per month. Over 3,500 companies have connected directly to the Westchester Telecom Network, as well as more than half of all municipal agencies in the county, and all of the county's schools, libraries and hospitals.
The network has permitted Westchester to create, attract and retain innovative organizations. E-government programs built on the network's foundation include FirstFind.info, a virtual library that provides general and local information to low-level readers and adults with limited English skills. The Shared Criminal Justice Data Warehouse, winner of a 2006 county achievement award, is used by county, local, state and New York City police departments. It offers a powerful search system that produces meaningful results from even vague and incomplete data, and provides access to aerial photography and GIS mapping. A revamped county Web site has become a primary communications tools and receives 22,000 visitors per day, compared with 12,000 in 2004. The network also played a direct role in attracting major employers to the county, including Nokia, New York Life Insurance and Morgan Stanley. But small, innovative organizations have benefited as well, including animation company Blue Sky Studios (animator of the movie Ice Age) and Pace University Online Learning for Trade Unions, which creates distance learning programs in telecommunications.
Promoting Business Growth
Like all Intelligent Communities, Westchester has clearly seen that broadband is not enough to secure a prosperous future. To create an inclusive and vital local economy, it has launched successful programs to promote business growth, improve the skills of the workforce and fight digital exclusion.
The county's Industrial Development Agency and state agencies offer tax abatement and Revolving Loan Fund and Technology Investment Fund programs targeting small business. Private investors including Morgan Stanley, MMV Financial and First Round Capital are also active in the county. The Westchester Information Technology Cluster is a virtual corporation supported by county government and business groups that works to match the needs of potential buyers to its database of more than 1,500 technology specialists at over 180 small-to-midsized technology companies. The Westchester Not-For-Profit Technology Council provides a similar service to nonprofits in need of technology assistance by matching them with tech-savvy volunteers. Reaching beyond the US border, Westchester launched in 2007 a Web portal called US Channels to promote trade between county companies and the world, and has published a Chinese-language electronic magazine in DVD format.
Spreading the Wealth
Westchester has partnered with its neighbor, Fairfield County in Connecticut, to win a $5 million, 3-year US Government grant for a "Talent for Growth" program. It aims to create a talent-driven system linking education, workforce and economic development partners with regional businesses, in order to develop a pipeline of skilled workers and improve the mobility of workers and communications systems. Another partnership, with New York State counties, targets "green workers." The Green Talent Pipeline unites the county governments with private and public employers to focus on "green" workforce development, economic development and education, to leverage the region's initial successes in developing clean technologies.
To help bridge the digital divide, the county runs a Westchester Scholars Program, which awards computers, software, connectivity and training to 50 students from low-income families per year. A Westchester Access program distributes older computers from county and local government to nonprofits, many of which use them as incentives to bring low-income adults into computer and Web training programs. The county also funds a large network of computers and connectivity at 41 library locations throughout Westchester.
Since the Westchester Telecom Network began service in 2001, this crossroads community has placed significant bets on its future. The expanding web of investments in Web-based applications, business growth, talent development and inclusion seem certain to power its growth for decades to come.
Labor Force: 499,472
Smart21 2008 | 2009
Its name means “many waters” in the language of the Native Americans who first settled in this meeting place of rivers. Natural abundance created agricultural prosperity and a strategic location made Walla Walla a 19th Century shipping hub – until it was bypassed by the trans-continental railroad and its prominence was gradually eclipsed by the coastal city of Seattle. Today, Walla Walla grows wheat that is sought-after in Asian markets, produces fruit sold across the US, and has seen explosive growth of wine-making, with 160 registered vineyards. Tourists seeking fine wines and natural beauty have given birth to a thriving culinary and arts scene, providing residents and businesses with an outstanding quality of life.
Ringed by mountain ranges, however, Walla Walla is geographically isolated. It is not located on a major transport route, and has limited air service. The city is reasonably well served by incumbent broadband providers, but there are gaps in availability and service quality, and backhaul to the major Internet peering points is expensive and not always reliable. Though it is home to a high-quality university and community college, its businesses offer limited employment opportunities to graduates, and brain drain is a constant concern.
Combating Brain Drain with Strengths
The Chamber of Commerce is leading an effort to leverage Walla Walla’s existing strengths to create broadband-powered growth. In 2012, thanks to a broadband stimulus grant, the nonprofit Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) completed expansion of its fiber backbone into the Walla Walla Valley. The city is now working with carriers, institutions and businesses on ways to roll-out local connectivity to fill gaps and deliver significant bandwidth where needed.
The Chamber established a film office that has already drawn TV and film shoots and is working to attract a full-time production unit for TV, film or Web content as the anchor of a digital media and gaming cluster. Based on the success of winemaking, it is driving the creation of a Plough2Plate program to help small local food producers with marketing, branding and distribution. And it has begun to integrate the Hispanic business community – in a city where 25% of the population is now Latin American – into the mainstream to boost the growth of both Latino and Anglo businesses. Mixing big ambitions with practical steps, Walla Walla is ensuring that its legacy of success extends into an Internet-driven future.
Community that developed its own broadband network and is launching development programs on this foundation.
A wireless network being built by Earthlink with public backing is making possible 300 Kbps free service to low-income citizens, supported by programs offering affordable PCs, training, support and online services, while paying users receive higher levels of service.
San Diego occupies a blessed corner of the United States. With a Mediterranean climate, the city is a tourist destination that drew 32 million visitors in 2012. It hosts the largest naval fleet in the world in its deepwater port, which in turn has attracted major national defense contractors as employers. Bordering on Mexico, San Diego is also the busiest international crossing point in the world and handles the third-highest volume of trade among all US-Mexico land crossings.
This combination has given San Diego an unusually diversified economy, in which defense, tourism, international trade, R&D and manufacturing are the largest sectors. Maintaining its competitive position and quality of life in a fast-changing world, however, is a significant challenge. City government is attacking that challenge on multiple fronts.
In 2015, San Diego was named a Google Fiber city and began working with Google on a detailed study of regulatory, geographic and other factors that will affect deployment. Google Fiber projects require cities to eliminate permitting and regulatory barriers and to allow Google control over where and when service is deployed.
While it waits for its fiber future to take shape, the city is focusing on quality of life factors that will shape its potential. California Career Pathways is a collaborative project uniting 14 school districts and 5 community colleges in the region. Funded by a California state grant in 2015, the program covers from kindergarten through community college and develops career pathways into the region’s growth sectors, from advanced manufacturing and clean energy to information and communications technology. It aims to integrate academic and career-based learning and bridge the distance from education to work.
The San Diego Public Libraries are also investing in a broadband-enabled future that helps drive an innovation economy. The system is engaged in a significant upgrade of online capacity to 100 Mbps at each facility. More importantly, it offers a makerspace, open to the public, providing 3D printers and process tools including vinyl cutters, laser cutters, milling machines and sewing machines. Using this combination of connectivity and hardware, the library has delivered 150 free technology programs to more than 5,000 attendees in the past year, and hosted special events including a Coding Camp, Startup Weekend, Maker Meetups and Robot Days serving hundreds to thousands of citizens.
Challenges to Sustainability
A prolonged drought has brought Californians face-to-face with climate change and the need to manage a more challenging environment. San Diego has responded by making sustainability a social and cultural priority. The city is home to Balboa Park, the largest cultural urban park in the United States and site of the famed San Diego Zoo. A sustainability program launched in 2008 uses the park to conduct sustainability education and engage local arts and cultural organizations in decisions about its future. The city has also achieved US$1.75 million in annual savings and reduced water use by 1.5 million gallons through sustainability investments in the park.
With water becoming more precious by the year, the city embarked on a reuse program called Pure Water San Diego in 2013. City leaders had learned from unsuccessful pilot projects in the past, which were doomed to failure by headlines about “toilet to tap” water. For its new effort, the city developed a comprehensive communications plan and conducted extensive community outreach in person, online and by mail. By the time the Pure Water demonstration project was launched, a poll found that 73% of San Diegans favored water purification to produce a new drinking water supply. A city blessed by circumstance is now finding ways to leverage the skills and passions of its citizens to build an economically and environmentally sustainable future.
At the end of the last century, Riverside was a bedroom community and university town, agricultural center and warehouse hub in the desert 60 miles from Los Angeles. It also had a large population of poor and poorly educated residents and a signal failure to retain many of the 55,000 graduates leaving its institutions of higher learning.
A High Tech Taskforce
In 2004, the mayor and a community college dean convened a High Tech Taskforce to figure out how to channel some of California's high-tech growth into their community. It became the Riverside Technology CEO Forum, which led a multi-sector effort to change the city's destiny. The city built a fiber network to connect its operations as well as the University Research Park. A free WiFi network now offers up to 1 Mbps service through 1,600 access points, and exploding demand has led multiple commercial carriers to deploy high-speed broadband across the city. Riding the network is an array of award-winning e-government applications, from dynamic traffic management to graffiti tracking and removal.
Riverside has also worked to leverage its universities in multiple ways. College 311, a Web-based hub for educational social and community services, aims to double the number of Riverside youth who complete college. Targeting five knowledge-intensive industries, Riverside and its partners have launched innovation efforts from a highly-acclaimed virtual secondary school to an Innovation Center offering incubation space, business acceleration and interaction with angel and venture investors. These efforts have already attracted 35 high-tech companies and established 20 tech start-ups.
In 2006, Riverside started a digital inclusion program called SmartRiverside, using its free WiFi network, to provide technology training, free computers and software to all of the city's low-income families. Making it happen is Project Bridge, which provides recycled IT equipment to 1,500 new families each year. The equipment is refurbished by reformed gang members, who learn valuable skills; Project Bridge is southern California's largest recycler of e-waste, and the project is funded by eBay sale of excess equipment. From the streets to the research lab, Riverside is ready for the digital age.
In the News
Read the latest updates about Riverside.
Labor Force: 160,700
Intelligent Community of the Year 2012
Smart21 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012
Top7 2011 | 2012
America’s first capital, Philadelphia is still the nation’s fifth largest city, but far from its most prosperous. Like other old industrial cities, it suffered decades of decline as automation and globalization eliminated low-skilled employment. Today, 51% of jobs in Philadelphia require a university degree but only 22% of Philadelphians possess one. Though it is home to dozens of universities and thriving service businesses, the city has a poverty rate of almost 27%. When he took office in 2008, Mayor Michael Nutter pledged to double the percentage of young people who attended university. Since then, city government has marshaled local and national resources in an effort to break the cycle of low achievement and economic exclusion.
Nearly half of Philadelphians lack Internet access at home. Having identified broadband as an essential utility in its master plan, the city assembled a coalition of health, social service and community development organizations called the Freedom Rings Partnership. The group successfully applied for broadband stimulus funding, which has been applied to the development of 77 KEYSPOTS digital inclusion centers in low-income neighborhoods. Each provides access to technology, digital skills education and training in such essentials as job interviewing and keeping a job. Together, they have served 165,000 participants, with an impact that often reaches far beyond basic digital literacy. Other public and private investment has gone into redevelopment of the Navy Yard into a green industries park and America’s largest urban solar farm, as well as early development of a learning management system for the public schools. For Philadelphia, the payoff from these programs will be an increase in the percentage of its citizens that participate in the city’s economic success.
Smart21 2006 | 2013 | 2020 | 2021
Northeast Ohio is an 18-county region bordering on one of America's Great Lakes to the north and including the major metropolitan center of Cleveland and the cities of Akron, Canton and Youngstown. To Americans of a certain age, the names of those cities tell the tale of the Industrial Age. This region was one of America's great trade and manufacturing centers, a key link in the national transportation system, home to steel companies and the place where Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller made his fortune. Following the Second World War, however, it fell into seemingly unstoppable decline, particularly in the core urban areas, as US manufacturing lost competitiveness in a global market. Amidst rising unemployment, eroding institutions, population loss and racial unrest, the tremendous wealth created in the industrial era was no longer invested in creating new businesses and industries, nor in education and the development of social capital. In 1978, Cleveland became the first US city to default on its creditors since the Great Depression and, in 2004 and 2006, was named America's poorest big city.
Yet the region retained hidden strengths: world-class health facilities, a vibrant arts culture, three major professional sports teams and respected institutions of higher learning, including Case Western Reserve University and Oberlin College. Another major asset was buried in a literal sense. During the 1990s, the telecom industry built out more than $4 trillion of fiber-optic communications systems worldwide. In most cases, these circuits followed the traditional transportation corridors such as rail lines and highways, which meant that Northeast Ohio found itself once again at the hub of a high-capacity transportation network.
In 2002, Case Western named as its new chief information officer a visionary named Lev Gonick. With global technology and community development experience on his resume, he soon began outlining a revolutionary idea. He believed that the region's nonprofit institutions could spearhead development of a common community network that would not only save them money and expand capacity but foster a wide range of innovation collaborations. The vision impressed many regional leaders, notable among them Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell. Case Western and the city assembled a core group of institutions including NorTech (an economic development organization focused on technology), Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland State University, the county library system, the local Public Broadcasting System (PBS) affiliate, and Cleveland's transit authority and school district. These were the founding members of a public-private partnership they called OneCleveland, which was eventually renamed OneCommunity. Under the leadership of its president Scot Rourke, OneCommunity forged partnerships with the region's telephone and cable carriers, under which the carriers donated unused fiber-optic circuits to OneCommunity and OneCommunity contracted for last-mile fiber and VPN services from the carriers.
To make the deal, OneCommunity had to overcome resistance to the creation of what carriers at first viewed as a new competitor. Fortunately, Rourke and his team came from the venture capital industry, which allowed them to talk the language of business plans and return on investment. It also ensured OneCommunity began life with a sustainable business model. Eventually, they persuaded all parties of OneCommunity's essential value: by helping the public and nonprofit sectors become better users of IT and telecom services, OneCommunity would save them money while simultaneously boosting demand across the region. And boost demand it did. Lev Gonick reports that, prior to OneCommunity, Case Western was using about 40 megabits per second of capacity for all of its operations. Within a few years of joining the OneCommunity network, average demand had risen to 400 Mbps. Since start-up, the OneCommunity network has expanded to connect more than 1,500 schools, libraries, governments, hospitals and universities. Its OneClassroom content and digital asset management system connects these users to world-class content from the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Orchestra, PBS and other sources. In 2006-07, the network hosted an 18-month program called Voices & Choices, which engaged tens of thousands of area leaders in Web-enabled "town meetings" in order to educate people about the challenges facing the regional economy and obtain their input. Voices & Choices has led to a regional economic development plan called Advance Northeast Ohio, which focuses on business growth and attraction, talent development, inclusion and government collaboration for greater efficiency.
OneCommunity would be impressive just as a story of network deployment - but it would not have achieved the potential that its creators envisioned. Because OneCommunity's Board is made up of the leading governmental and nonprofit institutions of the region, it became the hub of intensive collaboration. Today, the work of tech-based economic development agency NorTech, for example, is complemented by Team NEO, a joint venture of the largest metro chambers of commerce, which works to attract business investment in targeted sectors. Another nonprofit, JumpStart, provides venture capital to start-up companies with high growth potential. In 2006, it tied for ninth among the 100 most active investors making first-time investments in start-up or early-stage companies, according to Entrepreneur magazine, up from 61st place in 2005. Meanwhile, private investor Morgenthaler Ventures, founded in Cleveland with offices in Silicon Valley's Menlo Park, tied for 11th most active on the Entrepreneur list.
BioEnterprise is another nonprofit partnership, founded by The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western and Summa Health Systems. It supports business formation, recruitment and acceleration for emerging medical device, biotechnology and health care service firms. Since its founding in 2002, it has created, recruited or accelerated more than 60 companies, helped them attract more than $565 million in funding, and concluded over 225 technology transfer deals with industry partners.
Rebuilding an Entrepreneurial Culture
In November, OneCommunity announced that it would share with the Northeast Ohio Regional Health Information Organization (NEO RHIO) an $11.2 million grant from the US Federal Communications Commission to develop a regional broadband health care network. The network will connect 19 rural hospitals and numerous clinics in 22 counties to over 30 existing hospitals already on the OneCommunity network. The project will enable NEO RHIO and its collaborating medical providers to deliver telemedicine, records access, medical imaging and remote diagnostic services to improve community health care. At the same time, it creates the opportunity for the region to become a center of excellence in the emerging business of electronic patient records management.
The efforts of OneCommunity and its partners are all directed to the same goal: rebuilding the business, political and social culture of entrepreneurship that created the region's Industrial Age prosperity. In the Broadband Economy, that takes a different set of assets and skills, from broadband to partnerships to digital literacy. It also takes long-term investment in human and social capital. But the partners are betting that same spirit that drove the region's earlier success can create a sustainable and inclusive economy in the 21st Century.
Labor Force: 2,125,400
Smart21 2008 | 2011