More than 75 developers, land owners and policy makers met downtown Tuesday afternoon to discuss entrepreneur Patrick Kennedy's field of dreams -- an that will turn San Leandro into the most wired city in the East Bay.
Kennedy is , the company on Davis Street near the downtown BART station that is already one of the city's largest private sector employers.
In October, Kennedy to spend about $3 million of his own money to snake fiber optic cables through city-owned underground conduit. This will create a local data superhighway of the sort found in only two other Bay Area cities, Palo Alto and Santa Clara.
The event drew a standing-room-only crowd to an OSIsoft conference room, and kicked off an effort by city officials and business leaders to rebrand and reposition San Leandro as a high-tech destination.
Just as the railroads spurred commerce in the industrial age, high-speed data networks will attract new types of business, Kennedy said.
Examples include software firms, video game developers, media companies, Internet service businesses, drug discovery companies and so on.
Speakers at the two hour session included high-tech real estate broker Justin Reilly of the firm Cassidy Turley, a apecialist who finds locations for big Internet hubs in Silicon Valley.
"You have a tiger by its tail, and it's just going to take off," Reilly said.
City staff presented San Leandro as a community ready for business with nearly a quarter of its land zoned for industrial or commercial activity. Staffers also handed out a map of 25 buildings close to the loop that were good sites for data-intensive businesses.
Whether by luck or design, installation of the fiber began the Monday night before the event. Work should be finished within months.
But while the fiber loop has the potential to transform San Leandro, it will take time to attract new companies, one real estate broker said after the event.
"This is a five to 10 year process," said Stephen Kapp, a senior vice president with Cornish & Carey Commercial Realty in Hayward.
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