Tag Archives: 19 February 2013

Broadband on the table @ VLCIA 2013-02-19

Internet speed and access (appearing as Broadband) played a starring role at the 19 February 2013 meeting of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA), with a surprise cameo by Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter (appearing as himself) and a bravura performance by Angela Crance of Wiregrass Tech, with a strong supporting role by VLCIA Chairman Roy Copeland, and Mary Gooding standing in for VSU. Internet access (as "telecommunications infrastructure") came up in Project Manager Allan Ricketts' report as a requirement for a Fortune 500 customer service operation and for a National health care service provider, both considering locating here, also as bandwidth, as a requirement for jobs. That was the main theme of Executive Director Andrea Schruijer's report, especially in rural parts of our county, especially for a home-based call center. Even Rotary Clubs need broadband.

VLCIA is also helping find potential sites for several utility-scale photovoltaic solar installations.

The Industrial Authority Board was down to three members, barely a quorum: Mary Gooding, Chairman Roy Copeland, and Tom Call. Whereabouts of Norman Bennett and Jerry Jennett were undetermined. I can't complain; I was in bed with a sinus infection.

Here's the agenda (such as it is), with links to the videos and some notes, often in separate posts.

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Rotary Clubs need broadband @ VLCIA 2013-02-19

Bill Slaughter, Dennis Marks, John Page, Gretchen Quarterman @ Valdosta Rotary Club 2012-09-12

Before the Industrial Authority 19 February 2013 meeting, Gretchen told Bill about how she’s now videoing at Rotary and putting playlists on the web with some delay. Bill and Gretchen (and Commissioner John Page) go to the same Valdosta Rotary Club. This is yet another use of Internet access: attracting participants to local community groups, and getting their speakers to a wider audience.



I’m super-excited about the whole broadband thing —Gretchen Quarterman @ VLCIA 2013-02-19

And now a word from the only person in the room at the the Industrial Authority 19 February 2013 with actual experience in bringing Internet broadband access to new areas, invisible behind the camera but clearly audible, Gretchen Quarterman:

I’m super-excited about the whole broadband thing, because you know that’s near and dear to our heart, and our background.

But please be very careful about the buill that’s before the legislature that will prohibit municipal Internets. Right now the legislature is trying to take off the table muncipal Internets. And I think that a municipal Internet would be a really great solution here. So let your legislator know that’s a bad idea; they shouldn’t take that off the table from us.

That’s HB 282, in opposition to which Amy Henderson of Georgia Municipal Association said:

Broadband is economic development.

Gretchen continued:

At the Chamber’s annual meeting when a local speaker stood up she talked about the that’s doing really well right now is agriculture and I’m pleased to announce that the South Georgia Growing Local Conference will be here in January of 2014 the last weekend, a Friday and Saturday. It’s an equivalent of the Georgia Organics big conference that they have in Atlanta. Except that it’s for south Georgia local growers, farmers, homesteaders. We just were in Reidsville this last January and Lowndes County is going to have it next year.

And the whole series of South Georgia Growing Local Conferences (this will be the fourth) has been organized largely online, in yet another use of Internet access for economic development, in this case sustainable local development.

OK, one more: Rotary Clubs need broadband.


I don’t want to say we don’t have broadband —Andrea Schruijer @ VLCIA 2013-02-19

Unfortunately, Andrea Schruijer made clear that much of what had just been said at the the Industrial Authority 19 February 2013 hadn’t been heard.

It’s not that we’re saying we don’t have broadband. We have connectivity; that’s not the issue. We have great partners that help us with that.

Well, local “leaders” need to learn to say it: “we don’t have broadband!” Many of the people of Lowndes County and even more in the surrounding counties can’t afford Internet access at all, as Idelle Dear told the Lowndes County Commission. And the “great partners” Ms. Schruijer bragged about will never provide it for us without a lot of prodding, because AT&T and Verizon and Sprint and Comcast and Mediacom don’t think anything outside the Atlanta beltway has enough population density to bother with, and even in Atlanta all people get is U.S.-style low-speed low-reliability Internet connectivity that would never even be on sale in Japan or France or Korea or Finland or even Estonia.

Tom Call illustrated my point when he talked about a residential project where a provider installed cable and claimed they were providing voice, TV, and Internet access, but then didn’t actually have the capacity for Internet when people started using it.

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Broadband “huge strategic initiative for our community” —Mary Gooding for VSU @ VLCIA 2013-02-19

Mary Gooding spoke up for VSU at the Industrial Authority 19 February 2013, saying that VSU President McKinney was in Athens (as was President Perrin of Wiregrass), but he and VSU:

We too believe that this is a huge strategic initiative for our community. And we were thrilled after the meeting that we attended that the city, the county, both educational institutions, the Industrial Authority, everyone there, the hospital for sure, all agreed that this had to be a significant incentive.

Mary Gooding added:

At Valdosta State it’s becoming one of our biggest road barriers to online degrees, to online classes. That’s again more bandwidth that’s needed to be able to deliver degrees and classes online.

That’s all good, but where were the superintendents and school boards of the two K-12 school systems? Where were library Continue reading

Broadband top priority, education, jobs, quality of life —Angela Crance @ VLCIA 2013-02-19

Angela Crance, Special Assistant to the President of Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, told the Industrial Authority 19 February 2013:

I’m here for Wiregrass, and we just want to thank you for bringing this up and making it a top priority for the community [looking at Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter] and the Industrial Authority….



It’s definitely a priority for us…. Only 14% of our citizens have a college degree and we need 70% to have a college degree within ten years. To be able to accomplish that we’d better have

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Broadband “one of the number one issues” —Bill Slaughter @ VLCIA 2013-02-19


Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter told the Industrial Authority 19 February 2013 that broadband is: “one of the number one issues”.

…certainly one of the most important recruiting tools that we’re going to have to figure out in this community how we can get it. To be honest with you, it’s a wide open question. Do you have the infrastructure? How much will the infrastructure that we currently have support? We’re going to have to find a way to get with the professional providers and find out just exactly what these capabilities are in our community…. I see that as the big question. We’ve got to figure out where to start with it.

I think it is probably in my opinion one of the number one issues that this community is going to have to address from the standpoint of where we go with economic development in the future for this community not only for new economic development but for existing businesses as well. As a business begins to grow,

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Companies need broadband, especially in rural areas of our county —Andrea Schruijer @ VLCIA 2013-02-19

Andrea Schruijer’s Executive Director’s Report to the Industrial Authority 19 February 2013 had one theme: Internet broadband speed and access.

It’s a concern, especially in more rural parts of our county….
It’s up to us to make sure that we create an awareness of the importance of having that technology in our community.

Why the sudden (just started late last year) emphasis on broadband?

We’ve worked with a few of our existing industries that do not have the capacity. Operations have had to change or move to different locations that have better connectivity.

That’s a not-so-veiled reference to the the company that located in Lake Park and discovered there was no broadband, and to the two companies that moved their IT operations to Thomasville.

She emphasized again that broadband throughout the county was important:

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Industrial Authority prospects need Internet broadband speed @ VLCIA 2013-02-19

Internet access (as "telecommunications infrastructure") came up in Project Manager Allan Ricketts' report to the Industrial Authority 19 February 2013 as a requirement for a Fortune 500 customer service operation and for a National health care service provider, both considering locating here, also as bandwidth, as a requirement for jobs.

  • Fortune 500 customer service operation
    Needs secure telecommunications infrastructure; site visit 5 March. (And once again Col. Ricketts believes a company that says we're the primary option, without any sign of any due diligence to find out whether that's true.)
    Later, Tom Call asked how many jobs that company might bring, and Col. Ricketts elaborated on 100 jobs or more, with some detail on timeframe for bringing them on.
    Then Chairman Roy Copeland asked for elaboration on the telecommunications infrastructure issue. Col. Ricketts' answer was support for the training facility was what was needed, including bandwidth and security.
  • National health care service provider
    Needs telecommunications infrastructure.

Continued in the next post.

Here's a video playlist:


Industrial Authority meeting tonight, about what, who can tell? @ VLCIA 2013-02-19

Same old agenda tonight at the Industrial Authority (only the dates change each month). It’s now buried three levels down on their website, but at least they’ve started archiving old agendas. Still no minutes, though, going on two years since the VDT publicly exposed VLCIA’s expensive price tag for old minutes.


Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 5:30 p.m.
Industrial Authority Conference Room
2110 N. Patterson Street
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