Because time is money for business, education, health care, other entities and citizens, data ideally moves at the speed of a very high speed internet connection. The Port of Ridgefield is aiming to bring available data speeds in the area to a level on par with that of the Portland-Metro area by constructing a dark fiber network within the Discovery Corridor.
The port’s interest in this infrastructure development took a step forward yesterday with a $50,000 grant award from the State of Washington’s Community Economic Revitalization Board. CERB provides funding to local governments and federally-recognized tribes for public infrastructure which supports private business growth and expansion.
At a CERB meeting on September 15, members voted unanimously to award the $50,000 grant – the highest available award amount for a planning grant – directly following the port’s presentation. The port’s request was for the funds to complete a feasibility study and formal needs analysis for constructing a fiber optic broadband “loop” around the Ridgefield Port District, also known as the Discovery Corridor.
Nelson Holmberg, vice president, innovation for the Port of Ridgefield, who with port CEO Brent Grening presented at the CERB meeting, said the port was very proud to have that vote of confidence from the CERB board.
“A unanimous decision by the board to award us the grant in the full amount we applied for is much appreciated. It recognizes our disciplined approach and smart policy we’ve established as we work to ‘light up’ the Discovery Corridor.”
Holmberg also noted that a feasibility study would determine construction costs and aid in determining a cost/benefit analysis for the infrastructure development and project revenue generation capacity.
“This will provide us with an expected rate of return – required information for a responsible public entity,” said Holmberg.
The port has conducted informal research over the last year, and preliminary information indicates there is a strong need for high speed capacity.
“Anecdotal evidence doesn’t make for wise investing, however,” said Holmberg. “We will use the feasibility study and needs assessment to complete, affirm and formalize the anecdotal research.”
In the face of the onrushing innovation economy, port representatives see dark fiber optics installation in North Clark County as key to the organization’s efforts to best serve the community, and Holmberg was pleased the CERB board understood its importance.
“Connectivity is mission critical to our area for growing business, competing globally, and providing our citizens with access to a world-class education and other services.”
The proposed fiber development project would create a redundant loop of fiber optic backbone around the Ridgefield Port District, extending to WSU Vancouver and Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. The loop would include civic & government, education, emergency services and healthcare nodes. The port will not provide services, but will simply provide the fiber network for private carriers that wish to lease broadband capacity from the port.
The port hosted a public forum earlier this year to inform residents and businesses of the port’s intent to develop broadband infrastructure. For more information about the port’s fiber project, including the forum, visit portridgefield.org.
The Port of Ridgefield, established in 1940 and with a district population of approximately 17,000, is located in the northern part of Clark County in southwest Washington State. The port district is divided by the rapidly expanding I-5 corridor known as the “Discovery Corridor,” with five freeway interchanges that provide easy access to many large tracts of undeveloped properties. The port district encompasses nearly 57 square miles, or 36,480 acres. The Port of Ridgefield is located at 111 Division St., Ridgefield, Wash., 98642. For more information call (360) 887-3873.