Broadband Communities

NOV-DEC 2014

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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76 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT The Stratford Story A small city in Ontario, Canada, punches above its weight in the national economy. Much of its success comes from intelligent use of world-class broadband. By Robert Bell, John Jung and Louis Zacharilla / Intelligent Community Forum "T ake an extra $25. New York is an expensive place." Tose words of wisdom came from the city council of Stratford, Ontario, Canada, in 1952. A prominent citizen, journalist Tom Patterson, had come before the council with a proposal. Patterson wanted to travel, at the council's expense, to New York City to convince legendary British director Tyrone Guthrie to come to his city and found a summer Shakespeare Festival in the park. Who could resist attending Shakespeare in the park on the banks of the Avon River in a town called Stratford? Tose were hard times in Stratford. Its prosperity had been built on agriculture and on serving as a repair depot for the steam engines of the Canadian National (CN) railway. Agriculture was still going strong – though employing fewer people every year – but a decision by CN management had centralized repair services somewhere else on the line. No idea promoting the community's survival was too crazy to consider. So, on January 22, the council signed of on Patterson's brainstorm, giving him $25 more than he had originally requested for the trip. Patterson did meet with Guthrie – more than once, as a matter of fact, which required more $125 disbursements. By July of the following year, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, under artistic director Guthrie, presented its inaugural production of "Richard III," starring Alec Guinness, under a massive tent in the park. Cultural tourism became a new industry in Stratford. It was a homegrown economic development solution and the frst sign of a new innovation ecosystem in the making. But six decades would pass before the next sign appeared. During that time, the festival thrived. By 2010, it was the largest employer in the city and generated C$135 million in local economic activity and C$70 million in tax revenue for all levels of government. Stratford grew with it, reaching a population of 32,000. However, the festival, restaurants and lodging were seasonal businesses that brought prosperity only four months of the year.

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