“I already have all the internet I need”

Posted on February 6, 2010


There are two schools of thought about the importance of improved internet service in the Township.  You already know that I am firmly of the school that believes reliable high-speed internet is as essential to our future as decent roads and a ready supply of electricity.  There is another school of thought:  “I already have all the internet service I need,” or “Why should we spend a lot of money so kids can play games online?” or “I don’t use the internet.” 

Sometimes the whole discussion reminds me of people who say “I don’t have any children in school.  I don’t see why I should pay taxes to educate other people’s kids.”   OK.  Munson Medical Center is heavily involved in plans to enhance regional internet access because its planners are convinced that will enable the hospital to provide better quality health services at lower cost, especially in rural areas.  The Traverse Bay Intermediate School District is equally committed, because educators believe they can offer greatly expanded choices at lower cost, especially in rural areas. 

I thought you’d like to know how people right here use the internet to make a living, or to provide the goods and services you buy–and also how they could do it better with reliable high speed service.  Maybe you’ll think of ways that what you do could be marketed more effectively or delivered to more customers if you had a speedy connection of your own.  Maybe you’ll think about how young families could make a better future here if we had the infrastructure to support this kind of economic activity. 

  • Tim Paczesny built Education Outdoors through the power of the web.  The CAMP board game and all the other products that have developed since became national favorites because Tim and Jesse DenHerder were able to market them effectively through the internet. 
  • There’s Bob Hicks.  He designs websites from the home office–and I do mean home office–of Northern Michigan Web Design.  
  • There’s Ken Shepley.  He–and a lot of other people, too–work at the Eastport office of Fruitfast, which markets its cherry-based products through the web. 
  • There’s Shelly Esak, who has an advanced degree in Art History and a matching blog at Answers.Com that is beginning to pay off.
  • There’s the entire staff of the Eastport Market, which relies heavily on the internet to order merchandise, distribute sale ads, and process the endless number of official reports that are the lot of the small business person.
  • There are Chris and Sonny Szejbach, who have a website to promote Sonny’s Torch Lake Market to tourists and summer residents.  Their daughter Lisa has a website, too, where she and her husband sell their Puzzles that Rock–a homegrown Antrim County product that you should be proud of.
  • There’s King Orchards, where Betsy and John and Jim and Rose sell quantities of fine Antrim County cherries and apples and preserves and other excellent treats through their website.  They ship this stuff all over the country.  This is not a little hobby we’re talking about here.
  • Other growers are using the web, too: Ryan and Andrea Romeyn, Lon Bargy, Stan Dawson, Ken Kamp, the whole extended Veliquette family, the Friskes.
  • Ask Maryanne Jorgensen if the internet is important to her real estate business.  Ask her if prospective buyers are interested in high-speed internet.  
  • Wendi Wooten relies on the internet to operate Terry’s poetry workshop business.  Last week he was downstate doing three of them, all of them web-based referrals that were scheduled, planned and invoiced through the internet.  The book Terry did with Betty Beeby, A Book of Hours, was set up, proofed and printed through the internet. 
  • Full disclosure: there’s me.  Among my many jobs, I do editing projects for companies that write training manuals, software documentation, corporate newsletters and whatnot.  Since my internet service chokes on the large documents and online collaborations that are often involved, I am pretty much limited to smaller projects. 

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about all this, and will be doing a lot more.  One of the things I read was a press release from the Department of Agriculture announcing the award of stimulus fund broadband grants for middle- and last-mile build-out.  That means the kind of infrastructure that ultimately brings service to your house or your business.  Think of it as the infrastructure the electrical utility needs to deliver power to your house from the vast grid symbolized by those giant high power towers marching across the landscape.  I thought this paragraph was interesting:

In rural Burleigh County, N.D., for example, the BEK Communications Cooperative has been selected to receive a $2 million grant and $2 million loan with an additional $2 million in leveraged funds. The company will expand the existing system to offer fiber-to-the-premises service to more than 540 homes and anchor institutions that are currently underserved. The existing system provides service to 53 percent of the population in the area, and among the current users, 22 percent derive household income from the Internet. This expansion is expected to stimulate economic growth by bringing on new users.