Make us your home page

Why did Google Fiber pick Tampa? Credit the area's emerging tech and startup scenes

No question, Tampa getting picked as a likely city (and perhaps metro area) for Google to bring its super high-speed Internet service is terrific news. Google Fiber will bring a massive boost to the quality of Internet access here, competitively push down prices for both Internet and TV services in the market and send a message to the soon-to-arrive Charter Communications and Frontier Communications cable TV companies about to take over Verizon and Bright House Networks services that they will need to raise their game from day one.

But behind the Google Fiber coming-to-town announcement is a no less important event. Why did Google choose Tampa to be among the early wave of U.S. cities to be considered for ultra-high-speed Internet service?

Two big reasons. The city's gaining a reputation — beyond its own borders — as both an area of rising technology significance and for encouraging entrepreneurs to pursue their innovative start-ups.

Don't take my word. Consider the Wall Street Journal's headline in its story Wednesday covering Alphabet, which is the actual name of the Google company these days, and its latest expansion plan: Alphabet Considers Sending Google Fiber to Cities with Tech Cred.

Tech credibility. That's a global headline and Good Housekeeping seal that should prompt shouts and high fives in the hallways of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, which has set a goal of raising the profile of this metro area as an emerging tech hub. Well, Google seems to be paying attention.

This is no less a powerful Google endorsement of Tampa Bay's vigorous efforts in recent years to build an infrastructure for entrepreneurs to encourage quality start-ups that can help boost the economy with jobs and foster more innovative thinking.

Here's how Jill Szuchmacher, director of Google Fiber Expansion, tells it in her own Google blog posting on Wednesday. "From start-up-villages to hackathons, communities are coming together to accomplish great things with gigabit speeds. Still, less than 10 percent of homes in the U.S. are connected to Internet served over fiber-optic networks. As more cities have access to superfast fiber networks, entrepreneurs will be better equipped to drive the next wave of innovation.

"That's why today, we're inviting Oklahoma City, OK, Jacksonville, FL and Tampa, FL, to explore bringing Google Fiber to their communities, as we did last month with three other cities. These growing tech hubs have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to small business growth. Their list of accolades is long — from Jacksonville's title as a top 10 city for tech jobs, to Tampa Bay's #2 spot on the list of best cities for young entrepreneurs, to Oklahoma City's recognition as the #1 city to launch a business," Szuchmacher writes.

Obviously, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn gets this in his role as the city's relentless promoter. On Wednesday he said Google Fiber would give business in the city an edge enjoyed by just a small handful of American cities. "If we're going to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem here, we've got to have the ability to move data," he said. "And our ability to move data gives us a competitive advantage."

Google's not the only important player this week to publicly recognize the significance of growing entrepreneurial activity here. At the annual meeting Tuesday evening of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. — an economic development group traditionally focused on recruiting bigger companies to this area — incoming EDC chair Colleen Chappell broke new ground by saying the EDC would start reaching out to the area start-up community to encourage more entrepreneurship. Chappell, an entrepreneur and head of her own marketing firm in Ybor City, argued forcefully that making this area more attractive to millennials and others motivated to start innovative businesses makes good economic development sense.

So thanks, Google Fiber, for recognizing Tampa's technology and entrepreneurial ambitions and for picking this area as a contender to join the 15 other cities that are already Google Fiber cities or in the pipeline to become so. This should be considered a win-win for the area that goes well beyond the eventual delivery of superfast Internet access.

Contact Robert Trigaux at Follow @venturetampabay.

Why did Google Fiber pick Tampa? Credit the area's emerging tech and startup scenes 10/29/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 2:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. PolitiFact Florida: How would Florida fare in Graham-Cassidy health care bill?


    Following a sharp rebuke by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., hit the airwaves to defend his bill that would undo much of the Affordable Care Act.

    Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
  2. Whatever happened to the Zika epidemic?


    Remember Zika?

    The last time Gov. Rick Scott warned Floridians about the potential threat of the mosquito-borne virus was in July, when he urged residents to still be vigilant against bug bites and standing water. At the time, doctors and researchers were bracing for what was supposed to be another active summer …

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting Zika. Cases of the virus are down dramatically in Florida.
  3. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again


    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  5. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]