From Inside Business
Successful metropolitan regions are able to leverage their unique competitive advantages in a manner that creates economic growth and improves the quality of life of their communities.
In Hampton Roads, we are fortunate to have many competitive advantages that we can use as economic drivers as we compete in the national and global economy, including a strong federal and military presence, one of the most important ports on the East Coast, a vibrant tourism industry and a beautiful coastal environment.
The recent arrival of transatlantic broadband cables in Virginia Beach has created a new and exciting opportunity that distinguishes us from other metropolitan regions and provides an asset we can translate into job creation for our community.
Hampton Roads is the only metropolitan area between Miami and New York where groups of these transatlantic cables are landing. Two cables have already arrived and we are being considered for additional cable landings. These cables provide ultra-fast fiber service that can serve as a job creation opportunity.
Technology businesses and data centers will want to locate in Hampton Roads to be near the cable landing location, but we must move quickly to take advantage of this opportunity.
Through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, the region is nearing the completion of the design for a south side fiber ring. It will interconnect government, business and education centers in the five south side cities with these transatlantic cables, making Hampton Roads a digital port to the world.
Future phases of this effort will connect to the Peninsula localities, creating a regionally interconnected fiber network. The planning district commission, comprised of 47 representatives from the region’s 17 local governments, voted unanimously to endorse this proposal.
The goal of this municipally-owned dark fiber open access ring is to enable, not compete. Our region plans to build this fiber highway and allow providers to ride this open access system, providing business, government and education centers fast speeds at an affordable cost.
Two important developments over the last few months have created additional excitement around this initiative. First, on Sept. 5, representatives of the five south side cities and Old Dominion University and Virginia Wesleyan University collectively celebrated the first interconnection of this regional fiber ring at an event at Virginia Wesleyan.
Then in late October, the five cities competed against 69 other teams from metropolitan regions around the country and were named the grand prize winner in the 2018 National Smart Infrastructure Challenge. The Hampton Roads submission included a suite of eight projects centered on the fiber ring that are envisioned to accelerate the growth of a digitally-empowered region and serve as the foundation for smart regional development.
This national recognition affirms the exciting direction Hampton Roads is pursuing to transform our region into a hub for technology and innovation, and become known as an emerging smart region that will be attractive to businesses and entrepreneurs.
Over the past several years, the need for Hampton Roads to build on and diversify our regional economy has been well documented.
Our region’s collaboration around the fiber ring initiative presents an opportunity to prepare for the future and develop job creation opportunities around technology and innovation that can complement the military, government, tourism and port sectors of our economy.
I encourage you to visit the commission’s website at www.hrpdcva.gov to stay updated on this and other exciting regional initiatives.
From Inside Business
By Bob Crum
Special to Inside Business
Bob Crum is the executive director of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization.
Have a story in mind or press release of your own that our regional entrepreneurs and innovators should know about? Let us know!
Stay updated on news and events in the Hampton Roads startup ecosystem…sign up for the StartWheel Newsletter!
StartWheel’s mission is to centralize and mobilize efforts that foster the growth of entrepreneurism in our regional innovation economy. We aim to support and cultivate an entrepreneurial network in HRVA where talent, resources, information and leadership come together.