January 18, 2012 —
Mike Morris of Beach Lake has a vision. He and his partner Stephen Smith of New York City are developing a broadband data system that will be housed at the former Sullum’s department store at 525 Main Street in Honesdale. When fully operational, the center will employ 20 technicians.
Morris uses an analogy to describe the broadband system: “Imagine a straw with liquid flowing in and out,” he said. “That’s the communication system we have now. This system we are working with will be like the Holland Tunnel.”
Information will be carried over this wireless system under high speeds that can boggle the mind when you are used to the present system.
“This will play a vital role in the local economic development scene, hoisting local business communication to an extremely high-tech level,” he said. “If businesses in Wayne County hop onto this band wagon, they will be able to thrive on a very competitive level.”
Morris was motivated to bring this system to the area when his daughter told him she did not want to go to college, saying that she wanted to stay in the area and didn’t want to be a banker or lawyer—the only career areas that are available to college graduates in this area.
Morris has engaged local officials in his endeavor. “We have a technology committee of which he is a member and that is working with him,” said Mary Beth Wood, executive director of Wayne Economic Development Organization (WEDCO). “The committee is looking for ways to increase broadband capability. Mr. Morris is moving ahead with his project and we are supporting him.”
If we wish to expand the broadband system we have, we’ll need to know if it will be adequate and if it is affordable, she said.
Wood said that Morris’ project would probably have to be accomplished in phases and moved forward that way. The broadband project is something that could be shared with neighboring counties. Morris said that Pike County could be included in the project.
Wood said that a company, which she could not as yet name, was also working on a broadband system to be located in Wayne County.
“Morris will be bringing in something that the county doesn’t have as yet,” said Derek Williams of the Wayne County Planning Department, who conducted a survey of the 35 Internet Service Provider (ISP) companies that operate in the area. Some of these are telephone companies, cable systems and satellite companies.
“A company may not want to locate here because these services are not available,” Williams said.
“There’s an act of Congress that requires that rural communities like Wayne be included in broadband efforts,” said Brian Smith, chairman of the Wayne County Commissioners, who is a member of the tech committee. “Our aim is to leapfrog into the future and to give Wayne County residents a chance to benefit from broadband efforts.”
“There’s a good possibility that Mike will be successful but it’s still speculation,” said Stephen Lawrence, a member of the tech committee. “What’s best about this project is that it’s aimed at advancing the economic development of the area and that’s a good thing.”