Broadband, business and jobs come together in Montery County

3 December 2013 by Steve Blum
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Distance and location matter. The Internet isn’t free.

Kish Rajan, the head of California governor Jerry Brown’s business and economic development office, met with Monterey County officials this afternoon in Gonzales, to talk about broadband and high tech help for attracting new businesses and jobs to the area.

Peter Koht, the CEO of Santa Cruz start-up OpenCounter, gave an update on the rapid adoption by local governments of the e-government platform developed by his company. The OpenCounter concept is that integrating dozens of separate permit procedures for new businesses into a single platform can be a competitive advantage for cities. The simpler it is to start a new business, the more likely it is that new jobs will be created.

I updated the group on progress made by the Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC) in helping to develop broadband infrastructure in the region, which includes Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. My presentation is here. One of the CCBC’s major efforts this year is to develop a set of model policies promoting broadband improvement that local agencies can consider. Koht and Joel Staker, CCBC chair and network administrator for the City of Watsonville, talked about their experience with some of the policies, including mapping broadband assets and taking advantage of opportunities to install conduit whenever street construction work is done.

Rajan seemed impressed by the progress that’s been made, and expressed support for the initiative, particularly the idea of using technology to cut red tape and make it easier to start a business, as OpenCounter does.

The event was organised by the Monterey County Business Council, and sponsored in part by the CCBC. City managers and economic development officers from Gonzales, Salinas, King City, Marina and Monterey, and the County of Monterey, attended.