Dr. John Robinson used a story to illustrate a point he was making better than charts or graphs or statistics ever could.
A few years ago, while his family was living in Greenville, S.C., a downed tree knocked out the electricity to the neighborhood.
His young daughter was distraught until he assured her the Wi-Fi was still working.
“She was OK with the power being off,” Robinson said. “But she could not live without Wi-Fi.”
As with his daughter, so with the world, Robinson said. Internet service is no longer a bonus or an extra. It is an essential utility just like electricity, water, and sewer.
Robinson, CEO of Wellzesta, Terry Cox, executive director of TechWorks of Gaston County, and Alan Fitzpatrick, CEO of Open Broadband, spoke to Get Ready Gaston about how the internet and attendant technology is reshaping the workforce and the global economy.
Highlights from Cox:
• TechWorks provides the only co-working space run by a nonprofit in the county.
• TechWorks can be a catalyst for job growth as it provides not only work space but also support and training for young entrepreneurs.
• Techworks can help existing companies grow and thrive.
• “Our goal is to incubate, grow, and retain talent in this county,” Cox said.
Highlights from Fitzpatrick
• Broadband is a critical part of any growing region’s infrastructure.
• Increasingly, many municipalities are seeking to provide free Wi-Fi service in their downtowns, as Belmont has done.
• Free Wi-Fi service is also being included in new housing developments and apartment complexes.
• High speed internet service is important to start-up companies and to creating and maintaining jobs in Gaston County.”
Highlights from Robinson:
• Skilled, highly educated workers are flowing into the Charlotte region thanks to the access provided by Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
• Belmont is likely to emerge as Gaston County’s leading municipality as growth from Charlotte shifts westward and crosses the Catawba River.
• Looking to the future, leaders will be better served to organize along economic, not political, boundaries.
• Money, time, and energy need to be injected into high growth areas to make sure that growth is both planned and sustainable.
Bill Poteat may be reached at 704-869-1855.
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