Sunday, March 28, 2010

Folding up the tent on Google Howard County

Back in February, I started a Facebook page called Google Howard County to promote Howard County as a site for the much ballyhooed super fast Google fiber test project. On February 10th, Google invited communities to submit expressions of interest in hosting this trial. Since then communities across the country having been doing back flips to woo the company and their billion dollar broadband pilot project.

According to this article by Miguel Helft in The New York Times, “that offer has become catnip for city leaders, civic boosters and economic development types across the nation.”

“The mayor of Duluth, Minn., threw himself into the ice-ringed waters of Lake Superior. The mayor of Sarasota, Fla., immersed himself in a tank filled with bonnethead sharks, simply to one-up him. The mayor of Wilmington, N.C., said that he would even jump out of an airplane — with a parachute, of course.”

I have to admit that the Google Howard County effort looks pretty lame in comparison. On the other hand, the city of Baltimore has made a much more compelling argument for why Charm City should be the choice.

According to this story by Gus G. Sentementes in The Sun today, “many rural and some urban communities, such as Baltimore, are worried that they're being left behind as commerce, innovation and prosperity are increasingly intertwined with the Internet.”

“In comparison with other large U.S. cities, Baltimore trails in broadband adoption among its residents, according to FCC statistics. And there are wide disparities across Maryland, with the most affluent counties of Howard and Montgomery having the best Internet connections, while Baltimore and rural counties lag, according to the data from the end of 2008.”

Howard County, by comparison is one of the most connected communities in the country.

Baltimore is one the key economic engines of our region. A prosperous and connected Baltimore is actually good for Howard County. If Google selects Baltimore as a test site, some benefits will likely to accrue to HoCo, certainly much more so than would if the company picked some god forsaken place like Duluth instead.

So I’ve decided to fold up the Google Howard County effort and in doing so I ask that those who 160 people who signed on to the Facebook effort consider throwing their support behind the Baltimore effort.

It just seems like the right thing to do.