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Michigan Economic Development Corporation Executive Committee Unveils LinkMichigan Initiative

Monday, May 14, 2001

Contact: Jennifer Kopp
(517) 335-4590

May 14, 2001




Michigan Economic Development Corporation Executive Committee Unveils LinkMichigan Initiative

Plan Offers Recommendations on Developing Michigan Into a National Telecommunications Infrastructure Leader


The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Executive Committee, in partnership with several public and private organizations, introduced the LinkMichigan initiative today offering recommendations on transforming Michigan’s telecommunications infrastructure into one of the most robust and advanced in the nation.  

“In today’s business environment, high-speed telecommunications service is becoming a necessity, not a luxury for both the private and public sector,” said David Brandon, chairman of the MEDC Executive Committee.“Michigan has long been a powerhouse in economic development.However, if the issue of greater telecommunications access isn’t addressed, the state could lose its leadership role.The LinkMichigan report offers insightful and important recommendations to facilitate the further development of Michigan’s telecommunications capabilities.” 

The MEDC Executive Committee identified several telecommunications infrastructure issues or concerns that were increasingly facing the public and private sector.Some of those issues include:  

  • Dissatisfaction with broadband or bandwidth availability in the state. 
  • Lack of an adequate backbone infrastructure in many regions of the state to carry fast-speed broadband traffic. 
  • Little or no information on availability and accessibility of telecommunications infrastructure.  
  • Lack of understanding by many communities as to the importance of developing telecommunications infrastructure in their region. 

“For over a year, our company has experienced problems obtaining high-speed connectivity that is critical to our day to day business,” said Michael Marston, corporate counsel, Ronart Industries.“We are hopeful that if enacted the LinkMichigan will effectively address and eliminate our concerns.” 

The LinkMichigan report outlines four fundamental steps to address those issues helping ensure that a state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure will emerge throughout the state.Those steps include: 

  1. Leverage Statewide Public Demand to Create a High-Speed Backbone: The Michigan Department of Management and Budget is being asked to take the lead on this step that involves collective purchasing of the state’s advanced telecommunications services, including higher education users, K-12 users, local government users and any other public partners.This step also involves:

    • Requiring provider(s) to build and maintain a high-speed backbone infrastructure that extends to most regions of the state to serve these customers. 
    • Requiring winning vendor(s) to resell excess network capacity on a non-discriminatory wholesale basis to increase competition and encourage investment in regions that might not otherwise attract new service providers.

  2. Implement Tax and Permitting Fairness:The Michigan Public Service Commission is being asked to act on this step that will establish a level regulatory playing field for all telecommunications carriers.The step also involves:

    • Enacting right of way permitting systems to create common rules for all carriers.  
    • Establishing one common fee system to replace differing fee and taxation systems in place around the state today.

  3. Increase Access to Information:The MEDC and its local partners will take the leadership role on this step by working to enact laws and/or rules requiring all telecommunications carriers to provide specific network location and capability information.This step also involves:

    • Developing and enforcing quality-of-service standards so that businesses and other purchasers of advanced telecommunications services are able to plan and not have business operations disrupted because of continual installation delays. 
    • Linking reporting to the approval of right-of-way permits.

  4. Provide Community Assistance: The MEDC will take the lead on this issue by providing local community planning grants so that local communities can develop their own last mile solutions.The MEDC will also encourage communities to link or leverage their local strategies to the statewide backbone initiative. 

Several state and local organizations, including the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), Cyberstate.Org, Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL), Michigan Community College Association (MCCA), Michigan Municipal League (MML), Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA), Michigan 

Townships Association (MTA), Presidents Council of State Universities and Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) have joined the MEDC Executive Committee in support of the LinkMichigan initiative. 

“Michigan’s automotive industry is once again confronted with many challenges.Perhaps the most difficult challenge is the industry’s commitment to moving from an old business model, or way of doing things, to a new business model that incorporates many exciting new technologies and ways of producing value for automotive consumers,” said David Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research.“However, the automotive sector cannot even begin to accomplish this transition without the e-tools so necessary to get the job done.That is why the LinkMichigan study is of the greatest concern to the state’s premier industry.The industry must realize the potential of new business model technologies such as e-procurement and collaborative engineering to help ensure that our e-highway is the best in the world.” 

For the complete LinkMichigan policy recommendations, CLICK HERE.The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life.