Greensboro’s Google Fiber Efforts are Making a Difference!

As the deadline for submitting the Google Fiber Request for Information draws near, Greensboro’s efforts are attracting national notice, including mention by PC Magazine, which picked up on our YouTube video.

And this post from localtechwire suggests we’re one of the top ten cities in the country making a pitch, based on a “share of voice” analysis made by Steketee Greiner and Company.

You can view their whole report here.    

With an estimated 600 towns and cities across the country competing for Google’s ultra-high speed broadband, we need all the help we can get!

But based on the knowledge I have of the content of Greensboro’s RFI, I think we’ll have an advantage because we’ve emphasized what we can do for Google, and not what Google can do for us. 

Only time will tell though.  Google’s selection of its test cities and/or towns is expected this Fall.

Go Greensboro!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

February Unemployment in N.C. Rises to 11.2%

The ranks of the jobless in North Carolina continued to rise in February to 11.2%, the News and Record reported today.  This was up .01% from January.

Wake Forest economist Robert Whaples thinks it’s possible the rate worsened because more people are actually looking for work, which could be taken as a hopeful sign.

At any rate, if you’re searching for a job, please remember Greensboro Public Library’s Job and Career Information page.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library System Hit by Major Budget Crisis

Librarians and library patrons across North Carolina have no doubt been stunned by developments in Mecklenburg County this past week, where for a few days it appeared that a huge budget gap would necessitate the closing of half of the County’s public library branches.

The library’s problems originated with a $34.6 million dollar shortfall in Mecklenburg County’s budget for FY 2009-10.  As a consequence, departments throughout Mecklenburg County government were asked to reduce their budgets and the Public Library of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County had to find $2 million in reductions. 

Faced with only grim alternatives, on March 18th Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s board of trustees voted to close twelve of the system’s twenty-four branches effective April 3rd.  Under this proposal, 148 staff would also have been laid off.   

However, following a sustained public outcry — including a fund-raising effort which has now reached almost $250,000 — on Wednesday of this week the trustees rescinded the decision to close the branches.  Instead, they decided to reduce staff salaries 5-20%, lay off fewer staff (82-84), and reduce hours/days of operation and services.  The new hours take effect April 5th. 

The latest plan is nonetheless hardly cause to breathe a sigh of relief, and projections for next year’s budget for Charlotte-Mecklenburg continue to be dire.  According to this article, “the real pain” is coming in the budget for 2010-11 when county officials face the possibility of close to $100 million in cuts to the current $1.4 billion dollar county budget.  As many as 500 county staff may lose their jobs.

Charlotte-Meck’s library system is not the only one in North Carolina with budget woes.  For example, Wake County may have to close their Southeast Regional branch in Garner in order to close a $1.2 budget gap next year.

According to this New York Times article, state and local governments across the country cut 45,000 jobs during January and February, and more layoffs are expected as these governments begin to plan their budgets for the next fiscal year.  

Times are simply tough all around.  And libraries are no exception.

News Flash! Google Fiber Application to be Submitted Live at 6:10 PM at Natty Greene’s!

City to SUBMIT Google Fiber Application LIVE during Celebration Event

WHO:  The City of Greensboro and supporters of the Google Fiber Initiative

WHAT:  The City of Greensboro to Submit Google Application at Final Mobile Tour Stop

Over the last few weeks, the City of Greensboro has made several stops at high-traffic areas to increase awareness and drive residents to nominate Greensboro for Google’s ultra-high speed Internet connection.  In a final push to draw support for the Google Fiber initiative, the City of Greensboro has scheduled a final mobile tour stop at Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing Co.

At 6:10 p.m., as supporters look on, Councilmember Danny Thompson will hit “SEND” and submit Greensboro’s formal community Google Fiber application live from Natty Greene’s.

Laptops will also be available for the public to submit nominations for Greensboro.  Individual resident nominations will be accepted until 8 p.m. The first 30 to nominate the Gate City will receive a Google Fiber T-Shirt (while supplies last).

WHEN:  Friday, March 26, 2010.  Mobile Tour Stop will be open from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.  Formal application will be submitted live at 6:10 p.m.

WHERE:  The second level (upstairs) at Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing Co., 345 S. Elm St.

WHY:  Google is planning to launch its fiber-optic system in one or more trial locations across the country.  Google Fiber will be an ultra high-speed broadband network — 100 times faster than what most Americans have today.

Wiki for Community Input on the Google Fiber Application

Just to let interested folks know, a draft of the narrative sections of Greensboro’s Google Fiber Application or Request for Information (RFI) has just been posted on-line in a wiki.

Each of the four sections were broken up into shorter paragraphs in the last draft I saw — not sure why those weren’t preserved here.  But the information is at least there.   

Just follow this link to the wiki.  Feel free to add your own ideas. 

Remember, wikis are collaborative, so anybody can add-to, edit and/or modify the document.

Guilford Unemployment Rises in January

Unemployment was up again in Guilford during January to 11.8%, the News and Record reported today.  That’s an increase of .6% from December. 

The state-wide rate for January was also 11.8% before seasonal adjustments (11.1% with seasonal adjustments).

Believe it or not though, many counties in North Carolina are faring even worse than Guilford.  Among our neighbors, for instance, the jobless rate for January was 13.2% in Alamance, 14.6% in Rockingham, and 12.8% in Randolph.  Forsyth’s was a little better at 10.6%.

These rates do not of course count folks who have given up looking for work or settled for part-time jobs.      

You can examine county jobless rates across the state at the Employment Security Commission’s website.

And if you’re looking for work, please remember Greensboro Public Library’s job links page.

The Push to Attract Google Fiber to Greensboro: What Makes Us So Special?

In case you haven’t heard, the City of Greensboro is making a major effort to attract Google’s ultra-high speed broadband project, known as “Google Fiber for Communities” or “Google Fiber” for short.

This is what Google says it is going to do in their official blog:

We’re planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States. We’ll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

Greensboro of course would love to be one of the “small number of trial locations across the United States” which are selected — the advantages for economic development alone could be tremendous.  But we’ve got to beat out plenty of other cities if we want to attract them here.

So, what makes Greensboro special? 

For one thing, the city has a large and active blogging community, indicative of the deep penetration information technology has made into the community as a whole.  Aided by blog aggregators We101 and Greensboro101, local bloggers compete with mainstream media as sources for news and information.  Greensboro is also the location of Converge South, an annual “community-driven, community-supported Tech Users Conference” very popular with bloggers. 

Another reason is Greensboro’s embrace of the “new urbanism” concept, which stresses mixed-use, “walkable” neighborhoods.  The redevelopment of downtown has included Greensboro’s new Center City Park, neighborhoods such as Southside, which mix business fronts with condominiums, and, when completed, it will also include our Bicentennial Greenway, a trail which will form a loop around downtown Greensboro.  Revitalized urban living will attract a younger, hipper, tech-savvy set to Greensboro and further extend the penetration of information technology into the community.         

Developers and other community leaders also recognize the importance of conservation and sustainability.  These values manifested themselves in the recent construction of Greensboro’s Proximity Hotel and adjoining bistro — now regarded as “the nation’s most energy efficient and environmentally gentle hotel complex.”  Local support for sustainable development is also encouraged by organizations such as the Triad Green Building Council, and the Piedmont Triad Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.  The City of Greensboro has recently made a commitment to reduce energy consumption by nearly 30%, and a Community Sustainability Council created in 2008 helps formulate and suggest strategies to City Council on a variety of environmental issues.  Lastly, organizations such as the Piedmont Environmental Alliance and Sustainable Greensboro also further our community’s pledge to the environment. 

Greensboro’s strong commitment to diversity is another reason to select us.  African Americans hold key leadership positions throughout city government.  Our universities and colleges include two historically black institutions.  And the City of course takes great pride in its connection to the Woolworth sit-ins and the recently opened International Civil Rights Center & Museum.  In addition, Greensboro’s Latino population continues to grow, and, in the 2000 Census, Guilford County led North Carolina counties in refugee resettlement.  

Still another reason for Google to select us:  the large number of visitors we attract.  For instance, though the Greensboro Coliseum is no longer the sole venue of the popular Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament, this facility often plays host to events of regional and even national importance.  Other attractions for visitors include the historic Blandwood Mansion, the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Greensboro Historical Museum, Greensboro Children’s Museum, and the Weatherspoon Art Museum.  The choice of Greensboro for Google Fiber will mean our many visitors will return to their homes and communities with word of this impressive technology and how it has transformed our city.

Plenty of other features of our community also recommend us.

For instance, Greensboro is unusual for a city of its size in having no less than seven institutions of higher learning (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, N.C. Agricultural & Technical University, Guilford College, Greensboro College, Bennett College, Elon University Law School and the Greensboro Campus of Guilford Technical Community College).  Combined, these universities and colleges make a valuable contribution to research, innovation, culture, and the arts in our community.          

Traditionally known as the “Gate City,” owing to its role as a railroad hub as early as the 1850s and the city’s central location in the State of North Carolina, Greensboro has also recently been chosen as a regional distribution center by FedEx.  When the company’s package-sorting operations are fully phased in, FedEx’s Greensboro facility is expected to anchor its operations on the East Coast.

Anybody who lives here could of course think of plenty of other reasons for Google to choose us — such as our excellent health care led by the Moses Cone Health System.

But I think you get the idea.  Greensboro’s simply a great place to live and we’ve got a wonderful community. 

So, c’mon Google, give us a chance!

January Unemployment is 11.1% in N.C.

North Carolina’s January unemployment was 11.1%, up from December’s revised 10.9%, the News and Record reported today.

Before the current recession, the State’s previous high was 9.7%, recorded in March 1983.  According to the News and Record, that rate was surpassed in February 2009, and we haven’t dropped below that level since — just more evidence for the severity of the current downturn. 

If you’re job hunting, please remember Greensboro Public Library’s Job and Career Information page.

Archaeologists to Excavate Remains of Shakespeare’s House

In still another brief follow-up to a previous post on the immortal playright and poet William Shakespeare (1564-1616), here’s a story about an archaeological dig which will begin later this month on the site of Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon home.

Archaeologists will be excavating three locations on what were once the grounds of the home, called “New Place.”  A special walkway and platform will be installed so that visitors can watch the dig while it’s in progress.

Dr. Diana Owen, Director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, is hoping for some exciting finds.  “Who knows,” she says, “we might find one of Shakespeare’s shoes, some of his discarded correspondence or even some of his personal effects — only time will tell!”

If you want to learn more, Greensboro Public Library of course has plenty of resources on Shakespeare.

Caravaggio Bumps Michelangelo from “Top of the Charts”

In a brief follow-up to a recent post, check out this neat article from the New York Times analyzing the rising popularity of the Italian Renaissance artist Caravaggio (1571-1610).  Author Michael Kimmelman attributes increased interest in Caravaggio to identification of the latter with the modern anti-hero (the great artist had a very sordid personal life) and the accessibility of his style to current tastes. 

If you’re interested in art in general, please remember we’ve got plenty resources for you at Greensboro Public Library, especially at the Hemphill Branch Library on West Vandalia, as well as at the Central Library in downtown Greensboro.