Fifth of five parts
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
The Elgin Development Group is continuing to push for greater access to high-speed Internet service and infrastructure improvements through the city as the group continues to advance its multipronged approach to economic development.
“There are companies on Davis Road that didn't have high-speed DSL lines up until September,” said Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President Carol Gieske. “So do we define Elgin as though we do not have the DSL lines. That was something that came up as something of importance” for the businesses in that corporate park on Elgin's northwest side.
“So (Elgin Development Group Director Bob Malm) put together some roundtables, brought in the (DSL) providers and said, 'What do we do? How do we do it? How can we bring in this service to companies that don't have it who should have?' Because everyone needs that high rate of communication availability,” she said.
And chamber President Leo Nelson said that fight for high-speed Internet access is not over, because the need for the technology is growing steadily. Right now, he said, the Elgin Development Group partners are focused on the area northwest of Randall and Big Timber Roads.
“There are existing businesses that do not have everything they need to remain competitive in this business world,” Nelson said. “So we're trying to work with Comcast to get them the basic high-speed service they deserve.”
“High-speed Internet is a real key for businesses to locate here and to retain businesses,” Malm.
“That's our next area,” he said “We sent out 100 invitations to the roundtable … Comcast delivered each one of those invitations to the roundtable, and included with that invitation was our business retention survey. So businesses … can fill out that survey” and let the group know about their needs.
That particular survey, Nelson and Gieske said, pointed out a low-tech need that was missing from the area: a mail drop box, which can mean the difference between having to drive across town or not.
So members of the EDG partnership have begun the onerous process of applying to the federal government to get a mail drop box out in that area for businesses to use.
But Gieske pointed out that the difference between absence of high-speed Internet service and the low-tech mail drop box illustrates the range of business needs the chamber and its Elgin Development Group partners are working to fulfill.
But business needs can range broadly and need to be addressed.
For instance, the chamber introduced a job board on its website last year in an effort to help residents find work and to make businesses aware there is a job pool in Elgin. Nelson said the job board has proven quite successful.
About this series:
► March 31: Elgin Development Group touts first-year successes
► April 1: New firms to pump millions into Elgin economy.
► April 4: Siemens, Fabric Images expand Elgin holdings.
► April 5: Efforts focus on preparing students, others for job market.
► April 6: Tech now among basic business needs.