You don't have to drive to Silicon Valley if you're already there

17 December 2014 by Steve Blum
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Santa Cruz broadband policy keeps business in town, Silicon Valley leaders say.

Smart application of good broadband development policy helps local economies grow by attracting new businesses and helping existing ones grow. The place to look for it is Santa Cruz County, according to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. It’s an example that Silicon Valley sorely needs.

The group, which was founded in 1978 by David Packard and represents about 400 of Silicon Valley’s heaviest corporate hitters, announced it was giving its “Turning Red Tape into Red Carpet” award to Santa Cruz County, and supervisor Zach Friend in particular, recognising his effort over the past year and a half to simplify the rules for planting broadband infrastructure in public roads and placing it on county property.

He was supposed to receive it at a ceremony last week, but it was cancelled by heavy rain. On the balance, that was probably a plus – we need water right now as much as broadband. But unlike water, broadband never falls from the sky. It has to be built and local governments can make it easy or hard to do. Silicon Valley’s leaders think Santa Cruz County is making it particularly easy.

“The award recognizes economic development initiatives that focus on retaining and growing existing businesses within the community or region”, according to the SLVG press release announcing that Santa Cruz won its the business retention and expansion award. It’s one of six categories on the annual honors list.

Real estate developments, environmental programs and a new U.S. patent office in Silicon Valley were also recognised, along with another broadband initiative, San Jose’s public WiFi system, also known as the Wickedly Fast Connected Experience.

It’s the second accolade in as many months: the California Broadband Council just posted drafts of Santa Cruz County’s broadband policy as examples for the rest of the state. The initiative isn’t complete, though. The Santa Cruz County board of supervisors approved the policies in concept back in January, but county staff are still chewing on the details. Expect something final and, hopefully, comprehensive early next year.