The cooperative work of community stakeholders has led to the possibility of the Town of Boone offering public Wi-Fi service downtown.
The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce convened the group with a charge to identify a community project that could advance through the resources and expertise of the represented parties.
“The goal was to gather a group of community leaders and identify one thing to accomplish together,” said Boone Area Chamber of Commerce board chairman Chuck Eyler. “Often we find many groups are working on similar projects, or projects that could be enhanced by involving more entities. The possibility of Wi-Fi in the downtown Boone area would certainly provide an enhancement for local businesses and customers. There is a potential for the proposed network to enhance existing infrastructure for municipal and safety related services. This idea seemed to land with everyone in the room and it is the kind of model that could be implemented in the future in other areas of the county.”
The Town of Boone and the Watauga County Economic Development office presented the concept of a downtown Wi-Fi solution the two groups had been collaborating on for several months. Discussion quickly moved toward current locations and future developments within the county where Wi-Fi service could prove beneficial.
“Many main street communities throughout the state have explored similar networks aimed at enhancing services for local businesses, residents, and tourists,” said Downtown Coordinator Virginia Falck. “Providing public Wi-Fi in a downtown corridor is an economic development tool vital for the livelihood of today’s main street communities, and we are hopeful about the opportunities public Wi-Fi will provide for our downtown.”
The Town of Boone will now take the lead on administering a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a wireless network that would provide service to the downtown Boone municipal service district. Once the RFP process is complete, the committee will examine total cost, cost-sharing possibilities, and other aspects to determine whether the project is viable.
“The Town of Boone is pleased to offer the expertise of the Town’s Finance Department is reaching out to potential vendors to assist in obtaining best priced options,” said John Ward, Town of Boone Manager. “Once the working group knows more about the potential public Wi-Fi options and prices available, the group will be equipped with the information needed to develop an implementation plan to propose to elected officials.”
The working group is comprised of representatives from the Town of Boone, Watauga County Government, Appalachian State University, Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, Watauga County Schools, Appalachian Regional Health Care System, Boone Police Department, Watauga County Sheriff’s Department, and the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce.
If you have questions, please contact the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce at 828-264-2225 or email[email protected].