A plan to make high-speed internet service available in the Whitetail Industrial Park is only the governor’s signature away from receiving $94,000 in state funding.
State Rep. Ed McBroom and Sen. Tom Casperson have been working to include the money in a 2012 supplemental budget bill that passed the state House this week and now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder for consideration.
“It’s really good news because the benefits of increased local jobs and work capacity are possible for not a lot of money invested,” said McBroom, R-Vulcan. “We keep hearing how important broadband service is to growing our economy and now this local project will be able to move forward.”
The state will provide the funding as a grant to the city of Escanaba. The city plans to implement an RFP process to solicit bids with hope construction could start as early as late fall.
“This has been part of the plan for the industrial park for a long time because it was hard to get the funding approved with all the financial difficulties and economic struggles the state has had,” said Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba. “Now that we’ve enacted some government reforms and erased the structural deficit the budget ledger is showing some breathing room so we can do some of these types of investment projects again.”
When the park was created about 10 years ago high-speed Internet service was part of the project plans touted by the state of Michigan, Delta County, and the City of Escanaba. Local officials working with the lawmakers for the funding have been Jim O’Toole, Escanaba’s city manager, and Vicki Schwab of the Delta County Economic Development Alliance.
Escanaba City Manager Jim O’Toole was very pleased with the funding award saying: “Receipt of the funds to expand Internet service to the Whitetail Industrial Park will not only retain jobs in the community but it will also offer the opportunity for job creation and expansion which is key to maintaining a healthy business environment.”
Delta Manufacturing has indicated it will add 13 new jobs as soon as the service is available to support advanced product support, global marketing and international sales.
“The Internet is an essential tool to complete in the worldwide railroad market and having high speed access will enhance our competitive edge, thus increasing our sales and marketing position,” said Jean Ross, Delta Manufacturing president. “We are very pleased and thankful for the hard work that was done on behalf of the current and future businesses of Whitetail Park and the economy of Delta County.”
The park, owned by the City of Escanaba, is already home to businesses that provide 60 local jobs, including Delta Manufacturing, Michigan Meats, JD Machine Tech, Service Master, Billy Electric, the Rod and Gun Club, and the Delta Solid Waste Management Authority.
The upgrade to the existing Internet technology is needed to maintain and improve their competitiveness and future growth.