Embrace the future

"Obviously, everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical, and ultimately making a big difference in the world."
— Google co-founder Sergey Brin

In a few short weeks, some city in America will be chosen as a test site for the fastest Internet service in the nation. Internet supergiant Google plans to spend $500 million to create fiber-optic infrastructure capable of delivering data at more than 1 gigabit per second— more than 100 times faster than what most of us have access to today. Asheville is in the running for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The clamor for this fiber network has some cities going to great lengths to become what Google wants. Our strategy here in Asheville is different. We know we're an innovative, unique, vibrant community that's ready to utilize 1 GPS Internet. We don't need to change who we are. We just need to communicate who we are and how we will be a fantastic test market for their new network.

City Hall, Buncombe County and the Economic Development Coalition are preparing our municipal application, telling Google the nuts and bolts of our economy, demographics, topography, regulations, etc. The deadline for applications is Friday, March 26.

But the other half of the application process needs you. Google is asking individuals and local groups to nominate their communities for this service. A link to the application is available at googleavl.com, and we need every one of you to take seven minutes and complete it. Aside from some questions about your current Internet service, Google wants to know why they should come to where you live. They want to know how your life will be different if they locate their fiber network here.

This technological leap will be the innovation equivalent of the railroad's coming to Asheville in the late 19th century.

With 1 Gbps fiber, Asheville can become a global leader in the things we already do well. Our climate-science and data-visualization sectors would be able to crunch the most complicated data in short order, making this an international hub for climate research. Mission Hospital's Cancer Center and cardiac unit could collaborate with other medical professionals in the region and around the world in ways no one could have imagined just a few years ago.

Our academic institutions, from Hall Fletcher Elementary School to A-B Tech, could dramatically rethink education. Small tech businesses all over Asheville could suddenly have an enormous advantage over their competitors. Our artists and musicians could undertake never-before-imagined international collaborations. Biotech leaders at the Bent Creek Institute could partner with universities involved in the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to research the new species they're discovering every day.

People who know how to carve out a niche for themselves thrive here. This has helped create a dynamic, inventive culture unmatched by any city of our size in the nation.

Our Blue Ridge Mountains are absolutely breathtaking. We're told that this is one of the happiest places on earth. Every other week, we make yet another Top Ten Places To… list.

We are a city that cares. We have the highest number of nonprofits per capita in the nation. We come together week after week to support charitable causes. We could make more money somewhere else, but we choose to live in Asheville because of our quality of life here.

The people of Asheville want to make the world a better place, and the Google fiber-optic network will help us do that.

Come out to the Asheville town-hall meeting Thursday, March 18, to learn more, offer your suggestions and demonstrate Asheville's willingness to embrace the future that a 1 Gbps fiber-optic network will provide.

Thank you in advance for all your hard work. If we land Google Fiber, we will have outshone hundreds of cities across America, and it will be because we let Google know who we are and what we can accomplish.

For more information, attend the March 18 town-hall meeting at the Civic Center, or visit googleavl.com.

Asheville City Council member Gordon Smith is helping head up the city's push to land Google's new fiber-optic network.

We don't need to change who we are. We just need to communicate who we are.

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