Google sparks hope in Kansas City

Jan. 26, 2013 at 12:23 PM

KANSAS CITY, Kan., Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Google's use of Kansas City, Kan., as a high-speed Internet test case has already proven itself, a Kansas City, Mo., official said.

"This is exactly what we hoped would happen. More home-sprung businesses. More competition. In that way, Google's project is a success already," said Richard Usher, the assistant city manager for Kansas City, Mo., referring to Google's experiment of offering ultra-high speed Internet to a decidedly middle-American city.

Google needed to start somewhere with the new system and chose Kansas City. The area, not particularly known as a high-tech mecca, has already begun a subtle metamorphosis, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Within three months offering Internet with speeds 100 times faster than most people have ever seen, start up companies are finding their way to an area already dubbed the Silicon Prairie.

Internet entrepreneurs have moved to Kansas City from Colorado from the West and South Carolina from the East. A community forums on high tech business options – the type of meeting that might be canceled for lack of interest in the past -- recently attracted 260 people -- standing room only, the newspaper said.

"What Google is providing is a catalyst. This infrastructure is enormously important to create a ripple effect of entrepreneurial activity," said Lesa Mitchell, a vice president at the nonprofit Kauffman Foundation.

The experiment is a kind of "build it and they will come" approach to economic development. If you have the only watering hole for miles, the wildlife will invariably show up. If you have the only city in the world with Google's fiber broadband, entrepreneurs with big ideas will find a way to your door.

That's the theory, at any rate.

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