FCC Touts Incentives To Establish Broadband, Digital Technology Core In Pittsburgh
[Satellite News 07-22-08] For years, economists and politicians have racked the brains of think tanks to develop a solution to revive the lackluster industrial output of the Rust Belt, a cluster of cities along the Great Lakes that include former production giants like Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Recent buzz from U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials includes strong and optimistic assertions that government-sponsored incentives to establish broadband and communications industries will help solve this problem, and in cities like Pittsburgh, these incentives are readily available. According to the FCC, spending on broadband networks was $15 billion in 2007 and is expected to rise to $23 billion by 2010.
A small or medium-sized business looking at Pittsburgh as a base of operations can apply for a variety of loans provided by the city’s Business Development Center. These grants, available to a variety of industries, including satellite and broadband companies, can be used to secure working capital, machinery, equipment, leasehold improvements, land and building acquisition, construction or rehabilitation and site preparation. Technology companies can secure terms covering five to 25 years at below-market rates.
Pittsburgh is trying to transform its economy from a reliance on ailing automobile and steel manufacturing industries into one powered by technology industries like satellite and broadband communications. “We’re specifically targeting these industries for a reason,” said Rochelle Lilien, a loan officer for the Business Development Center. “We want them here. … We have technology seeding grants if a company has a new technology or can show us how their technology will benefit their business, if they’re located in our tech-zone [the Pittsburgh Technology Zone, a state designated enterprise zone]. Satellite manufacturing companies would have access to tax credits or other incentives through the state as well.”
At a July 21 hearing, “Broadband and the Digital Future,” at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said it is “a civil right” that every American has access to communications technology and broadband services and cited the example Pittsburgh could play in the larger scheme of boosting the U.S. broadband technology output. “What should really come to mind is how this great sports town is transforming itself into a vibrant, high-tech city that can lead the country into the age of digital technology,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to learning about this great city’s technological genius and how it can be channeled into overcoming the challenges that face all of us in the years ahead.”