WHAT WE THINK: Simpsonville gearing up for Internet expansion

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While the Simpsonville City Commission handles the day-to-day issues of the city, it’s shown time and time again that it has at least one eye focused squarely on the future.

And that has never been more evident than at Thursday’s meeting.

City commissioners, Mayor Steve Eden and staff discussed the budget, salt for the roads for this week’s winter weather, road projects and hiring an attorney to help with the possible addition of a high speed Internet franchise agreement.

“With the statewide project, which actually could be pushed back some, we’ll have to see, we think we’re going to be overwhelmed with these groups coming in and looking to put fiber in,” Eden said.

Eden was referencing the state’s Kentucky Wired project, which aims to bring high-speed Internet across the commonwealth.

The three-year project is starting in Eastern Kentucky and is scheduled to be finished in fall of 2018, although some funding questions could possibly delay the project.

The state, through a public-private partnership (P3) with Macquarie Capital, will finance, build, operate and maintain the network for 30 years, and, according to plans, it will come right through the center of Shelby County and provide anchor spots in Shelbyville and Simpsonville.

The fact that Simpsonville’s leaders are already planning for the project, despite its likely delay, is nothing short of amazing and inspiring.

In this day and age, having the availability of a reliable and fast Internet connection is as important as electricity. And if you ask a teenager, it might even be more important than running water.

Getting high-speed Internet all over our county would be akin to bringing electricity to outlying areas in the 1930s, it’s a game changer.

While much of Shelby County has Internet connections available, connections are still slow, even in many of the more popular areas.

Kentucky’s average peak connection speed is about 34 Mbps, which seems fast until you compare it to other states, where our commonwealth ranks last.

That’s especially concerning when surrounding states – and competitors for business – like Tennessee, 41 Mbps, Ohio, 51 Mbps, Virginia, 74 Mbps, and even West Virginia, 42 Mbps were much faster.

Simpsonville is already doing a great job of attracting businesses – their Kingbrook Commerce Center is a bustling center of economic movement – and this will only bring more attention to the burgeoning city.

It’s never been a secret that Simpsonville – once, and in some ways still, a sleepy little town that loves its horses – would grow, but Eden and the commission have put it in position to not only control that growth but find growth that it wants – including a retail center and a commerce center that provides good, high paying jobs.

Being prepared to take action as a high-speed Internet hub will only help them more, make the city more attractive for both industries and residents.

The foresight to get ahead of this attractive plan and get the city prepared to reap the benefits of a new high-speed network shows that Simpsonville is leading the way.

Hopefully the Shelbyville City Council and city offices are working behind the scenes to be prepared for this, as well.

Because when it hits, and when the project is finished, Kentucky is only going to be more attractive for businesses, and we want to make sure our two main cities are prepared to be the landing spot for residential and industrial growth.