Lite Up San Leandro
Full disclosure: the author of this piece, Chris Crow, is a declared candidate for San Leandro City Council, District 4
There is an exciting new opportunity developing for businesses in San Leandro. The city is implementing a broadband connection incentive program to help businesses who want to connect to San Leandro’s Fiber Optic Network cover some of the costs. The program will allow for a $2,000 - $10,000 grant for a business to cover some of the connection costs to pipe into the 11mile fiber loop that is very near completion in San Leandro.
San Leandro’s Fiber Optic network is the absolute best opportunity San Leandro has right now to join the rest of the world in the 21st Century. Our community, through the gracious efforts of our biggest tech company in town OSI Soft, can use this new infrastructure to help attract quality paying jobs, and champion a quality of life that is second to none in the Bay Area, state, country, or world.
This vision can only be achieved through a unified and concentrated effort to maximize this coming new advantage. Unfortunately, the amount budgeted for the city to incentivize a business to connect to our fiber is $180,000 – that is one quarter of one percent of the city’s entire budget aimed at attracting new business to town. This is not the hallmark of a city that’s “ready for business” as the city’s new promotion video sells. Although I absolutely believe we have a lot of the right and necessary pieces already in place, not spending enough on doing the one thing we know we have an opportunity to do is a bad policy for the current growth environment we are entering.
To make it worse, that $180,000 is split with two other incentive programs, one to improve existing businesses facades, and an industrial competiveness program that assists businesses in upgrading equipment.
Along with another coming tech wave, the economy is struggling to grow, but it is growing. We have exceeded our conservative sales tax revenue estimates for multiple years now, and we are expected to receive more than what is budgeted this year. I believe the city should invest a lot, if not most, of any sales tax revenue coming in over budget estimates at the mid-year budget adjustment into this broadband connection incentive program.
The Community & Business departments both expressed concern about “opening the flood gates” on this program, as at the moment it only has $180,000 to work with. We should not be afraid of our own shadow right now. Connecting buildings to the fiber loop is a win win for San Leandro, because even if the business fails, the fiber is already to the building.
We missed the tech wave last time around, and I hope we do not miss it this time. Lets lite up San Leandro.
authors note: I recently expressed this idea and sentiment at a Community Development Committee meeting