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Salisbury releases names of some Fibrant suitors

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — City Manager Lane Bailey on Friday released the names of companies interested in taking over Fibrant but not those still being considered by the city.

The release comes after repeated questioning by the Salisbury Post about the remaining three businesses still in the running to buy, lease or manage Fibrant. Bailey has cited economic development exemptions in state public-records law as a reason not to release the names of the finalists.

A total of 14 businesses expressed some interest in Fibrant after the city in January began soliciting proposals. With the names of the three finalists excluded, here are the companies that expressed interest initially:

• AT&T.

• Axia.

• Foresite.

• Network Design Decision.

• Open Broadband. Kent Winrich, who formerly managed Fibrant for Salisbury, now is the chief technology officer at Open Broadband LLC.

• Rapidity.

• Sunset Digital Communications.

• Terra Pact.

• Ting.

• Wide Open Networks.

• Wilkes TMC.

• Fujitsu/NDDI.

The initial 14 businesses provided a letter of intent to the city and signed a nondisclosure agreement. The city then provided information about Fibrant to the businesses.

Only six of the 14 companies submitted a proposal to buy, lease or manage Fibrant. They were the three finalists plus AT&T and Fujitsu/NDDI, as well as Rapidity and Terra Pact, which submitted a joint proposal.

It’s unclear where Rapidity is located. On its website, Terra Pact lists its address as Boulder, Colorado.

Fujitsu is a multinational company based in Japan.

City officials eliminated AT&T, Rapidity, Terra Pact and Fujitsu/NDDI from consideration, which left the three unnamed companies.

On Friday, Bailey said the city will not release the names of finalists because the City Council’s ongoing discussions fit within a protection in state law that allows records to be withheld if they relate to the “expansion or location of specific business or industrial projects” and would “frustrate the purpose for which they were created.”

Bailey said businesses under consideration would locate their business in Salisbury.

“We don’t know exactly how that would work here, but we feel like it meets the definition (of economic development) under the law,” he said.

N.C. Press Association General Counsel Amanda Martin said she’s not sure the economic development argument fits unless the city has a “good, safe basis” to say a sale, lease or management agreement would increase business in a tangible way.

Bailey said releasing the names would identify the finalists’ competitors, and that could affect their proposals submitted for Fibrant.

An advisory committee of business leaders will get its first look at proposals from finalists at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Another meeting will be held at 7 a.m. Thursday.

Bailey said the city may release names of other companies once they are eliminated from consideration.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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