336.597.1752 edc@personcounty.net
PCED Staff Note: This week’s post is part of a series on evaluating site selection factors from a local perspective titled, “Site Selection Factors”. The aim of the series is to outline the criteria used by companies to determine where they will build new facilities or expand existing ones. We will examine the top 10 factors as adapted from Area Development Magazine’s, “The Top Factor’s to Navigate the Location Maze”¹. Those factors, listed in order of priority, are as follows: Availability of Skilled Labor, Highway Accessibility, Quality of Life, Occupancy or Construction Costs, Available Buildings, Labor Costs, Corporate Tax Rate, Proximity to Major Markets, State and Local Incentives, Energy Availability and Costs. Guest bloggers will contribute each week from their area of expertise. Some topics may span multiple weeks.

 

Broadband as a Utility

 

image of the Mt. Tirzah communications tower during installation

According to the FCC and our court system, broadband is a utility, which means that it is as necessary for modern life as electricity, phone, and water.

Person County is taking steps to ensure that all of our citizens and businesses have access to this necessity in the near future.

One of the first steps in the Person County fiber process was done in 2013 when the Person County Business and Industrial Center, Inc. (PCBIC) conducted a fiber study of the entire county. This allowed Person County to see where fiber was geographically located and to identify areas unserved by fiber. Then, PCBIC had a consultant make recommendations to develop a long term fiber plan for Person County.

The County’s next step was to release an RFP to serve 1) the unserved areas of the county, 2) economic corridors, and 3) county facilities. Responses to the RFP were good and the county has moved forward with the first phase of improving broadband in the county – increasing access in the unserved areas. The outer edges of our county have limited-to-no broadband access and with more than 2,500 households and many businesses in the unserved areas, this area is a high-priority for increased service. Currently, the solution to serve this area is wireless. A wireless provider will hang equipment on four of the county’s vertical assets and should be able to reach at least 475 households and 40 businesses. Once the primary area is covered with service, the network will expand based on demand. A website will be available for residents and business owners to see what the existing demand in their area is and how much more demand is needed in order to reach them.

The second phase of the county’s project to improve broadband access involves constructing fiber to many county-owned and other public facilities. The build-out will span three fiscal years,  reach 51 facilities, and cover 50+ miles. In addition to passing by public facilities, it will pass over 1,000 privately owned structures and create an “X” of fiber across the county. This build-out will serve as the foundation for future build-outs and will ensure that affordable broadband infrastructure will be available for businesses and citizens who chose to locate and live in Person County.

¹ “The Top Factors to Navigate the Location Maze.” Area Development, Volume 51, Number 4, Q42016, pp. 24-36.

Ms. Sybil Tate

Ms. Sybil Tate

Person County Assistant Manager

This post was submitted by Ms. Sybil Tate, Assistant County Manager for Person County and Staff Lead for the Fiber Expansion Project.