EVERETT – Comcast plans to build a major fiber-optic network between Marysville and Arlington that will bring high-speed internet connections to an area poised for breakout manufacturing and industrial job growth.
Comcast Business and Snohomish County leaders announced the $1.5 million investment on Monday.
“By targeting the Arlington and Marysville area with this significant investment, we expect to see additional jobs and greater opportunities,” County Executive Dave Somers said.
The mayors in Marysville and Arlington welcomed the announcement. The cities are working vigorously to gain regional designation for their Manufacturing Industrial Center that includes Arlington Municipal Airport and north Marysville, which could attract 20,000 more jobs over the next couple of decades.
“Everyone in the region will benefit by this significant investment,” Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring said.
The cities have done much to attract prospective major employees with tax benefits and other incentives, and laid infrastructure for road and transportation improvements, water, sewer and stormwater retention.
However, the technological infrastructure was lacking.
“This will close one of those final loops that was hanging out there,” Nehring said. “In today’s economy, if you’re going to be competitive, you almost have to have it.”
Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert figures high-speed fiber today is probably among the top three traits that prospective businesses look for when locating or relocating to a new area.
“Manufacturing needs high-speed broadband,” she said. When local government leaders are trying to recruit new employees, waiting a couple of years for fiber connectivity isn’t an exciting prospect.
Tolbert touted the working relationship in economic development with partners like Comcast and the county to build infrastructure that will accommodate bringing more jobs to the area.
The new network should go live by mid-2018, providing up to 10 gigabits per second.
Matt Fassnacht, Washington region vice president of Comcast Business, said the company is rolling out more infrastructure around the region, and investing in Arlington and Marysville’s proposed Manufacturing Industrial Center is big project in efforts to create more jobs in the north county.
“We believe these new capabilities will be of great benefit to businesses, allowing for faster speeds, more time savings and ultimately more success,” Fassnacht said. Schools, businesses, hospitals and other organizations need more bandwidth to be competitive and take better advantage of cutting-edge technologies.