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Through a partnership between Colby College and the Central Maine Growth Council (CMGC), Waterville will soon have free wireless in public spaces downtown, making access to the Internet available to all. The investment is designed to support local businesses and attract new ones, enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors to downtown, and help to make Waterville even more of a destination.
The service will become live this month, with a range that spans from the Hathaway Creative Center to Post Office Square and from the western edge of the Concourse to the Head of Falls, where public wifi will enhance plans for a re-envisioned riverwalk. Colby contributed the initial investment of funds, and the CMGC will manage the annual operating costs.
“As we plan for Waterville’s future, it’s critical that we look at technology and connectivity as essential to the city’s growth,” said Vice President of Planning Brian Clark. “We saw this as an opportunity to offer a service that could benefit everyone and at the same time create another draw for investors. Ultimately, Waterville’s emergence as a technological center will play a role in making the city more attractive to residents, visitors, and businesses.”
The service will enhance the experience of the growing population of people living and working in downtown Waterville, Clark said, while at the same time benefiting existing downtown residents, many of whom walk to Main Street from surrounding neighborhoods. It will also be valuable in outdoor commerce situations such as the Downtown Waterville Farmers’ Market and festivals like the Taste of Waterville, where better connectivity will increase the speed and security of transactions.
“Our goal is to use free public wifi to create a cohesive experience downtown that attracts new and existing business growth via access to reliable Internet and that can be utilized by the entire community,” said Garvan Donegan, senior economic development specialist at the Central Maine Growth Council.
Only a handful of cities and towns in Maine offer this kind of service, said Donegan, who sees this as a competitive advantage for Waterville. Already home to colleges that inspire innovation and the infrastructure to support local hospitals, the city is now emerging as a technological hub, with software company CGI located on Main Street and now free wireless in the downtown area. Today’s announcement is another step towards Main Street and the city providing amenities for new businesses and people who work, live, and visit the downtown.
The wireless signals will be strongest outdoors and are primarily intended for use in public spaces. Inside, existing wireless signals will be stronger, thereby ensuring that service offered by businesses maintains its significance. The landing page will provide the Central Maine Growth Council with the ability to promote local events and activities.
Colby and the CMGC worked with Axiom, a company focused on delivering broadband to rural communities, and FirstLight, a leading provider of Internet in the Northeast.
Central Maine Growth Council
CMGC is the leading public/private catalyst and resource for economic development in Central Maine. The growth council is dedicated to fostering a robust regional economy through successful collaborative partnerships among businesses, governments, academic institutions, health care facilities, arts and cultural agencies, and residents primarily in the communities of Waterville, Winslow, Fairfield, and Oakland. The benefit is a highly desirable place in which to enjoy an outstanding work-life balance.