Taking Google personally


GOOG hearts KCK.


Not for Kansas City, Kansas, where Google will build its much sought-after broadband network.

But for the 1,000+ other localities hoping to land the project, the rejection feels a bit personal.

"Asheville loses out as Google chooses Kansas City," read one of many homerish headlines from across the country. Down I-40 in Greensboro, commenters at my blog made Google's decision sound like a referendum on local politics.

In fact, KCK had some practical advantages that contributed to its win, including an existing infrastructure that should make buildout less expensive and complicated than it would be in many places, and the potential for collaboration with powerful institutions like the University of Kansas Medical Center and the huge, innovation-focused Kauffman Foundation. Other factors -- population size? geography? -- surely played some role, too.

All that said, it kind of sucks to have missed the cut.

Like a lot of places, and more than many, Greensboro could use an economic boost. And as one local guy who does business on the internet at industrial scale told me, "I think people will be shocked at how quickly the installation in Kansas City will transform that local economy. You can bet that a bunch of high-wage paying companies and entrepreneurs are today sizing up the area."

He concluded, "It's hard to see anything else that comes close to the 'value creation per dollar invested' ROI of symmetrical gigabit broadband service. Greensboro needs this badly, whether via Google, or some other means."

One of the ideas behind the Google initiative is stimulating a broadband buildout across the country. Let's hope it succeeds, and the good news isn't confined to Kansas City for too long.