Five years ago ValuNet President Rick Tidwell had a dream of bringing fiber optic Broadband Internet to every house in Emporia Kansas. Today that dream is becoming a reality with ValuNet having installed enough fiber cable to reach 65 percent of all houses in Emporia and plans to reach over 85 percent of all homes by year end.
“Our growth has been amazing this last year.” Tidwell says. “Our construction crews are ahead of schedule and our installers are busy keeping up with demand.”
Fiber Optic Broadband Internet is a state-of-the-art technology that delivers broadband Internet, telephone and television all on a single strand of fiber optic cable. Many large cities have been building fiber optic networks, but due to the great expense, fiber optic networks are being passed over the smaller communities.
“Emporia is fortunate to have local investors willing to build this network for Emporia,” Tidwell said. “Fifty-eight local investors invested more than $8 million and we have borrowed over $5 million more to make this project happen. There were no incentives or tax breaks to make this project happen — just a desire by the community to see this technology brought to Emporia.”
To be a community that offers advanced technology is not only a benefit for residents, but also to Emporia’s industries and manufacturers.
“Emporia’s manufacturers need this type of high-speed Broadband connection to be able do business in today’s fast-changing global economy,” said Kent Heermann, Regional Development Association president. “Having fiber optic Broadband Internet is a great tool in recruiting new businesses to town. More importantly fiber optic broadband assists in retaining and assisting existing small to large business maintain and grow their business with this competitive edge.”
Emporia Chamber of Commerce president Jeanine McKenna said she was pleased that the idea had originally been discussed and promoted by a Chamber of Commerce Technology Task Force and has been amazed at how ValuNet was able to take an idea and turn it into a reality.
To bring this technology to Emporia has not been inexpensive.
“We have spent more than $12 million so far right here in Emporia. $7 million just in equipment and fiber that is now deployed across the community and $2 million in capital expenditures at our central office. What we have been most proud of is that we now have 35 excellent employees all here in Emporia with a payroll of $1.2 million a year.” Tidwell said “Not bad for a start-up business that didn’t exist in Emporia three years ago.”