Hudson is launching a major economic development initiative that city officials say will position local businesses for growth and the city for future development.

City Manager Jane Howington and Assistant City Manager Frank Comeriato July 22 announced the city's formation of Velocity Broadband, a fiber-optic broadband service that they say is so fast it will make Hudson one of the first "gigabit" cities in Ohio.

This will place Hudson on the forefront of technology, said Hudson Communication Manager Jody Roberts, joining only a few cities nationwide to offer high-speed, fiber-optic broadband Internet and voice services directly to the community.

"Many [cities] are moving toward it like we are, but aren't there yet," Roberts said. "Others are looking at laying the infrastructure but then letting [other] companies run it, which is not what we are planning. ... This service will be owned and operated by the city of Hudson."

She said the city hopes to have the first phase up and running by September.

The tentative schedule is a pilot launch at Executive Parkway locations only; phase 2 will be Downtown Hudson scheduled to launch in 2015; phase 3 will be the state Route 91 corridor; and phase 4 will be additional business areas. Phase 3 and 4 do not have an estimated timeline according to Roberts.

She added services provided by Velocity Broadband will be offered to local businesses only at this time. After future evaluation, the city may consider a residential offering.

Officials say the Velocity Broadband system will be faster than anything currently available in Hudson.

"In the city of Hudson, we take pride in offering the best," Howington said. "In local surveys, scores of local businesses indicated that faster, more reliable Internet is key to growing their businesses; that's why we are committed to providing fast and affordable broadband that local businesses can depend on."

City Council approved spending approximately $800,000 in capital costs to start laying the infrastructure earlier this year. Roberts said they anticipate spending approximately $1.5 million more in 2016 to finalize the capital infrastructure to go live for businesses, but this number has not yet been approved by city Council and may change.

"We will then determine any additional amounts needed in [future] years, since by then we will be bringing in money in the form of monthly fees from customers," Robert said of anticipated costs. "It is our goal for this service to become fully self-sustaining. And, we anticipate by offering this service, we will attract more businesses to Hudson (more income tax) and retain more businesses."

Costs for businesses to sign up have not been released yet, but Roberts said they will be "competitive."

The city will own Velocity Broadband and will maintain the service, according to Roberts. There may be portions that are outsourced, but mostly it will be the city.

As for maintenance costs, Roberts "do[es] not anticipate any high maintenance fees, and we have staff already on board who can handle this."

"The city's investment in Velocity Broadband is one that will change Hudson for the better and position us for the future. We're excited to see the transformation," Howington said.

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