After building out the community of 7,500 residents at the end of 2017, Fairlawn, Ohio, began expanding its municipal broadband service beyond city limits through a collaboration with the Medina County Fiber Network (MCFN). In June 2018, FairlawnGig became the only municipal Internet access provider on the dark fiber network, which offers connectivity in the region, including in the Akron metropolitan area.
Ernie Staten, Fairlawn’s Deputy Director of Public service, stated that FairlawnGig is “thrilled to take [its] services beyond city limits to help regional organizations achieve business goals only obtainable with robust broadband service.” The newly formed Bounce Innovation Hub, located in the former B.F. Goodrich Plant in downtown Akron, is one such organization that will soon take advantage of the expansion. In early December, Bounce announced a partnership with FairlawnGig that will bring gigabit speed Internet access to its building that houses entrepreneurial and creative organizations.
Growing a Globally Competitive Region
In the little over a year since the creation of FairlawnGig, home values in Fairlawn have increased eight and a half percent. FairlawnGig now serves over 2,000 subscribers and 500 businesses in Fairlawn and more enterprises are choosing to locate in the town. Many of these new businesses, including an I.T. firm with 72 high-paying jobs, stated that their main reason for choosing to locate in the town was FairlawnGig. Staten believes that the network can help the entire region compete globally in the same way it has helped local businesses grow and thrive and that “[its] services are perfect to help businesses in Bounce innovate and create market opportunities.”
Listen to Staten and Christopher discuss the early benefits of the network on the community of Fairlawn in episode 292 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.
A Partnership that Drives Change
Doug Weintraub, the CEO of Bounce, explained that as an innovation center attempting to recruit tech companies, it is imperative that the hub “have a public Wi-Fi solution that can accommodate high volumes at unprecedented speed with a convenient sign-on mechanism.” FairlawnGig will be able to deliver consistent, high-speed broadband service that meets these demands to the tenants of Bounce. While free public Internet access will be available throughout the building, companies in the hub will also be able to create customized network plans in order to meet their individual needs. Public Wi-Fi will also be available in the hub’s under construction first-floor space, The Generator, which will house a public working space, makerspace, cafe, events space, and esports lab.
With this new public workspace and more than 50 organizations and 200 people already in the building, Bounce will become FairlawnGig’s largest customer outside of its home community. The deal will not only allow Bounce to provide high-speed and reliable broadband connection to tenants, but will also help FairlawnGig continue its expansion into new communities that can benefit from its service. As Weintraub explained: “FairlawnGig is able to give [Bounce] the power [it needs] here. This is the perfect example of how relationships can drive real change and opportunity.”