Coordinated Party Fever Aims To Lure Fiber To Sarasota's Google Island

Sarasota raged with Google fever in March for a chance to win Google Fiber. People were encouraged to vote for their favorite cities and respond to Google's RFIs (request for information) in an effort to be selected to receive Google's ultra-high speed broadband network. Google says its Google Fiber network will provide over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-home connections for between 50,000 and 500,000 users.

Thanks to Sarasotans Matt Orr and Rich Swier, the I Want Google Fiber in Sarasota Facebook fan page was launched on Feb. 25, 2010. What began with only a couple hundred fans quickly grew (in high-speed fashion) to more 7,000 by the deadline week of March 22nd.

"We devoted a lot of time to make this initiative work and it was worth it," says Orr, co-founder of The Hub and co-owner of Local Social. Orr says the community's excitement at the prospect of Google Fiber coming to Sarasota is exactly what made their campaign such a success.

From writing a letter to Sergey Brin and Larry Page, co-founders of Google, to Mayor Richard Clapp swimming in a tank filled with bonnethead sharks, Sarasota was serious about getting on Google's short list.

Sarasota even renamed popular City Island Google Island. Business leaders and companies in Sarasota including Mote Marine, The Hub, Ringling College of Art and Design, Local Social, and Boar's Head are showing support, along with community leaders.

Orr says their initiative was a two-fold challenge. The first was getting Sarasota on Google's radar, and the second was educating the community on the benefits of Google Fiber in Sarasota.

"Having Google Fiber in Sarasota would probably be one of the most tremendous economic impacts we've seen," says Orr. "Just look at the jobs that it would create if Google possibly had a satellite office here in Sarasota, what that would communicate to the rest of the world. That Sarasota is a creative community and a player in the digital field. We have all the make-up here in Sarasota to make our creative class grow."

The deadline to submit RFIs was Friday, March 26, and on Thursday, March 25, a free concert was held on Google Island with rising star, Lindsey Ray. Ray even made a special Google Fiber jingle.

What happens now? We wait. It is expected that Google will select the winning city by the end of the year.

For continued updates, check out the passionate Facebook fan page or click here and keep yourself posted!

Writer: Nancy Vaughn
Source: Matt Orr, The Hub
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