Dirt off your shoulder, Kansas City.
Search engine giant Google added a proverbial feather to Kansas City’s tech hat Thursday while testifying in a U.S. Congressional hearing.
In a hearing with the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, the tech titan said Kansas City has been transformed as a result of Google Fiber’s expansion. Citing such examples as the Hacker House — a home that hosts technologists from around the world — and the Kansas City Startup Village, Google said its gigabit connection has helped establish the area as a mecca for Midwestern innovation.
“Kansas City has become a legitimate Midwest tech hub, nationally recognized for these successful tech startups,” said Michael Slinger, director of Google Fiber city teams. “We have seen entrepreneurs and companies from across America pick up their roots and move (to Kansas City), citing Google Fiber as one of the reasons.”
The testimony is apart of Google’s efforts to sway policymakers to support broadband infrastructure and development, which in turn boosts use of Google’s services such as its search engine, YouTube, cloud storage and more. Google said that when lawmakers support broadband development, the American public has more choice and small businesses can grow, which in turn boosts the economy. The Mountain View-based company used Kansas City as its cornerstone example.
Google first installed its gigabit network nearly three years ago in Kansas City, Kan. As a result, a flood of entrepreneurs flocked to the first neighborhood — Spring Valley — to receive the service, which is roughly 100 times faster than conventional Internet connections. The serendipitous convergence gave rise to the Kansas City Startup Village, which now has 30 startup tech companies and served as a rallying point for entrepreneurs in the community. Google also noted prominent venture capitalist Brad Feld, who purchased a home in the Startup Village and is now accepting applications from startups to access free rent.
“The Startup Village has also become a must -visit location for venture capital firms who want to invest in hot Kansas City technology,” Slinger said. “A well-known tech investor, Brad Feld, even opened the ‘Feld KC Fiberhouse,’ where up to five startup founders can live and work rent free for one year.”
Startup founders, however weren’t the only technologists to be attracted to Kansas City thanks to Google Fiber. More established firms, such as BIME Analytics, also moved to Kansas City because the gigabit network helped to validate the city as a technology town, Google testified.
In addition to the business community, Google Fiber has benefited the area’s non-profit organizations, Google said. Slinger dished kudos to such area organizations as KC Digital Drive and the Kansas City Public Library, which partnered to create the Software Lending Library. The software library allows patrons to check out and use bandwidth-intensive applications and software on their laptops through a system connected to Google Fiber.
Broadband competition also has flourish in Kansas City, largely as a result of Google’s gigabit offering to consumers. AT&T and Consolidated Communications are both now offering gigabit service in parts of the Kansas City metro, offering residents faster speeds while also establishing the area as one of the nation’s most competitive high-speed broadband markets.
To read Google’s testimony, click here to download the PDF.