My Turn: Treat Fibrant as an asset, not a liability
By Greg Rapp
The sale of Fibrant would be a loss for the City of Salisbury and its citizens both monetarily and opportunity wise. What it needs, and has needed from the beginning, is strong leadership that isn’t hampered or micromanaged by the HR department or the council/city manager.
They never have marketed this product outside of Salisbury in any consistent manner to attract companies and individuals that could benefit from the fastest Internet and an economically priced service. There is no reason seven years into this we have not landed any small tech companies from areas around the country where the cost of living is tenfold, and have less arts and culture than we do. Salisbury and Rowan County should be teaming up together and target market Fibrant in tech rich communities like Silicon Valley, Calif., and Chattanooga, Tenn.
This advisory committee should look hard at making recommendations to KEEP Fibrant, change the management structure and come up with a powerful marketing plan so it can be what it was designed to be. It was designed to be a tech magnet to help bring Salisbury into the 21st century by attracting companies with employees having higher than state average pay.
Nobody should think a $30 million utility should be profitable overnight. However there is much room for needed improvement. If the city ends up selling Fibrant at a loss it’s the citizens that will pay in higher taxes to cover the cost of the loss, and in higher prices in services to the purchaser. We have a substantial investment in our future here that could be parlayed into something huge, let’s not squander it.
There is a reason 10 companies may be interested in picking Fibrant up for 50 cents on the dollar. It’s because they see the unlimited profitability potential. The very first thing they would do is hike the rates. Salisbury and Rowan County would lose out of the biggest opportunity they will ever have in the next 100 years, and that is to unify and create a new and much need tech industry in Rowan County.
The advisory committee should really be looking at among other things:
1. Hiring a qualified director with broadband experience and let that person run it the way the competition does.
2. Create a quality marketing plan for attracting tech companies from OUTSIDE of Rowan County.
3. Explore the possibilities of a Rowan County, East Spencer, Spencer and other municipalities buying into the venture for future expansion.
Let’s treat Fibrant as the asset it really is and not the liability it is perceived as. Let’s not squander our future and the opportunities that are before us.
Greg Rapp lives in Salisbury.
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