Santa Cruz Tech Beat

Santa Cruz Tech Ecosystem

Local Broadband and Economic Vitality

tubesSanta Cruz Supervisors work to strengthen local broadband infrastructure

The greatest motivator of modern economies is access to broadband. Like access to rivers and ports in the Middle Ages, and to rail spurs in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, access to broadband can mean the difference between relegation the hinterlands and a thriving, vibrant economy. The fundamental difference is that we can now build these economies anywhere: fiber broadband means that any community can build jobs and develop their tax base irrespective of their geography.  All they need is the infrastructure.

This is an accepted fact. The federal government’s own National Broadband Plan asserts that broadband is the “foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life”.  What we need for this boon, though, is infrastructure.

“Internet has become as necessary to businesses as electricity or phones, and encouraging companies to stay local is good for our quality of life. We applaud Zach Friend and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors for recognizing the strong connection between broadband and economic health,” said Peggy Dolgenos, CEO and co-founder of Cruzio Internet.

In Santa Cruz County, we are creating an ecosystem [PDF] [Update on Implementing Recommended Actions to Expand Broadband in Santa Cruz County, 11/5/13] in which this infrastructure can flourish. By facilitating access to the public right of way for fiber infrastructure projects, establishing common standards for installation of fiber facilities, and collaborating with internet service providers to find better ways to get broadband where we need it, local government is demonstrating that it can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

This Santa Cruz Count fiber broadband initiative is being touted by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development as a model for California, and has produced collaborations between other local governments interested in taking an active role in building the foundations of a 21st Century economy. In Fresno, for example, the local government is exploring the possibility of creating a public fiber network. Our neighbors in Watsonville have already approved construction of a public fiber network.

When asked about Santa Cruz County’s efforts to proliferate high-speed internet, Bud Colligan, an entrepreneur and former tech executive asserted that “broadband infrastructure is a fundamental building block of our local economy.  It enables dramatic efficiencies and accessibility for citizens, government, education, business and non-profits.  If we are to develop the right kind of clean, green, and high wage businesses in Santa Cruz County, inexpensive and widespread access to broadband will be integral to that effort.”

We can’t rely on business to get us to the future, though: it is the responsibility of government to ensure that everyone has access to the tools and resources we will need to compete in a global market.

Patrick Mulhearn
Policy Analyst, Office of Supervisor Zach Friend Second Supervisorial District, Santa Cruz County

[Editor’s note: For a related article, read Good Times Weekly’s Town Hall with Supervisor Zach Friend.]

Sara Isenberg curates and publishes Santa Cruz Tech Beat for the benefit of the extended business and technology community. When she is not volunteering her time for the tech scene, Sara makes her living by managing software projects, web strategy planning, and providing development team services (including account management, vendor management, strategic partner management, beta project management, referrals to qualified technical team members, and more). Please visit or contact Sara by email at if you have any project management, account management, or Development Team leadership or service needs.


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