Rise in Tech Companies in Brainerd Area Due to Broadband

Earlier today KAXE (public radio out of Grand Rapids) interviewed Sheila Haverkamp (Executive Director of the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation about how a private-public partnership over 13 years ago has created a fiber optic network that is attracting new people and new businesses to the Brainerd Area.

Sheila reports that Tech companies are employing 1000 people in and around Brainerd, MN. Broadband helped local businesses grow and encouraged new businesses to start – especially some home-based businesses. She tells the story of several businesses in the area…

Homegrown entrepreneurs are taking advantage of it but the area also is attracting others from outside the market for the same reason, said Sheila Haverkamp, executive director of the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation (BLAEDC).

“The area’s high-speed Internet service plays a critical role in the decision-making process of many entrepreneurs considering markets in which to start a technology-related business,” she said. “For the last decade, our fiber optic network has been an important factor in helping start-up companies grow and succeed here. And now we’re getting noticed from others throughout the state.”

Ben Gibbs is another successful entrepreneur who owns online businesses that require high-speed Internet. The founder and owner of Crosslake Sales, Gibbs moved his family to the Crosslake area in 2003. While cell phone coverage was spotty at the time, “we had better Internet service here than we did in the Twin Cities,” he said. “We needed high-speed Internet when we started the business, and we knew Crosslake had it, so it made our decision easy.”

Crosslake Sales specializes in liquidating bicycles and bicycle components and accessories. Gibbs buys and sells products from around the world. He also has two other sporting goods-related companies to complement his online businesses.

Jim Mayne was in the same boat in 2000 when he moved to Deerwood from the Twin Cities to start Deerwood Technologies. Offering technical services requires reliable and fast Internet service, he said, which allows him and his five technicians to easily connect with customers. The company helps companies move their business systems to the Cloud, manages computer security services and provides network and server support.

“We don’t require the bandwidth of high-speed Internet here because we don’t host client data or systems on the premises,” Mayne said. “What we need is reliability.

This entry was posted in economic development, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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