Courier Staff Writer
Maybe your Internet is fast enough to do everything you want. Maybe not. But before Ottumwa makes improvements, they want to know what you need.
“We’re asking everyone to go to [this page] and answer a few questions,” said David Barajas Jr., executive director of the Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation.
He’s been spearheading a movement to bring broadband Internet to Wapello County.
If you think of your home computer as an Olympic-sized pool, then the Internet connection is the hose used to fill it, said Megan Framke, OEDC initiative manager.
Users may be satisfied adding water with a garden hose because it meets their needs. Those who want a fire hose to fill the pool, however, need broadband.
The online survey, Barajas said, is “so we can get a handle on what people have — and what they need.”
Framke said a request to take the survey is going home with local students. The survey shouldn’t take long, she said.
“It’s only five questions.”
Maybe, she said, they’ll discover the public doesn’t know how they can benefit from faster Internet. Or maybe individuals are happy with what they have, but businesses need an improvement in order to grow.
Barajas has repeatedly said that to move forward as a community, and to be competitive as a place to invest, any town must meet some basic requirements. For example, it needs a way to move raw or finished material, like access to a highway, railroad or airport. It also needs a way to communicate quickly, which these days means a powerful Internet connection.
Years ago, Barajas believes, the “must-have” innovation was rail. Where the railroad went, commerce followed. Towns that had it thrived. Those that didn’t were left behind.
“In my opinion, the communities that don’t [seek out] broadband are going to continue to fall behind,” he said.
That’s because other communities are already installing broadband. It’s a benefit, he said, to their growth in quality jobs, in tools for education and to access top-quality health care.
“We can’t be average [when it comes to this],” said Barajas. “We really can shine within Iowa — if we have vision and we’re willing to work hard.”
The online survey will be up until Dec. 21.
On the Web, go to www.ottumwadevelopment.org/broadband-availability
Gaskill, Chelgren on radio show
Ottumwa legislators state Rep. Mary Gaskill and state Sen. Mark Chelgren will be featured on Craig Settles’ Gigabit Nation Internet Radio Show today. For more information, go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gigabitnation/2012/12/11/bipartisanship-and-broadband-in-state-legislatures.