Sarasota County, along with all of its municipalities, is in an all-out effort to get Google to notice the area.
The Internet giant is looking for a location to test a new super-fast Web service that could bring customers Internet speeds up to 100 times greater than they’re currently getting at home.
Google is looking for at least one community somewhere in America to become a test market for future technology, called Google Fiber.
It’s unclear if the company would install its own fiber optics into the ground or use what already exists.
What is known is that Google is looking to revolutionize Internet use for consumers and directly compete with companies such as Comcast and Verizon.
Last month, Google reached out to local governments across the country interested in applying to become a test site. Citizens are also able to nominate their community.
County and city leaders are viewing this as an economic-development opportunity and are in hot pursuit.
The IT staffs of the county, city, town of Longboat Key, North Port and Venice met last week to talk strategy on attracting Google. The Sarasota company, The HuB, has created a Facebook page called “I want Google Fiber in Sarasota,” which had 3,183 fans as of March 10. And the city is renaming City Island “Google Island.”
The city has also placed a link on its Web site to Google Fiber’s application page, so anyone can nominate Sarasota County. The goal, said Chance Craig, the city’s IT director, is to get 1% of the city’s population, or about 5,000 people, to apply.
“We may be able to attract more hi-tech companies, as well as traditional companies,” said City Manager Bob Bartolotta.
Glenn Zimmerman, the county’s IT director, said the unprecedented bandwidth that would accompany Google Fiber would be attractive to companies with extremely high-end computer applications that before would not have been able to use those applications from the county’s existing Internet service.
“It would be an attractive feature for companies wanting to come here and those that are already here,” he said.
The deadline for applications to Google Fiber is March 26. A number of other cities across the country are also applying to become test sites.
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