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Jan 13

The Wireless Cool City

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

Sometime during the middle of last year Ypsilanti was awarded a $100K “Cool Cities” grant from the state of Michigan. This money is going to get plowed into the old Edison building to add artists space, hipster shopping, and facilities for the Riverside Arts Center. This project would somehow make Ypsilanti more desirable to the so-called “Creative Class” in hopes that they will move here and add to our much needed tax base. Getting the grant was a real coup for the City and everyone involved deserves a pat on the back and our gratitude.

To further hammer home this achievement, the City threw a big gala celebration at said arts center and the Chamber of Commerce shook down Michigan Avenue businesses to the tune of $6,500 to put up banners proclaiming said coolness (and they didn’t even use an Ypsi source for the job – nothing screams “Ypsi Pride” like outsourcing work to Ann Arbor). Obviously, if a banner says it’s true, then it has to be true (even if the skyline depicted on the banner is nowhere to be found in Ypsilanti).

Currently, we citizens are being guided into coolness by a middle-aged ruling class of whom most do not know how their own web site even works. Before I get more hate mail, older people can be “cool” too. I guess. Lou Reed is still kinda cool, but that’s probably it. Iggy Pop would probably make the list too if I didn’t see him holding his pomeranian in every single press photo. But I digress. The City leaders need help, and I am always more than willing to offer unsolicited advice.

What if I told you that for $10,000 I could provide FREE wireless internet access to most of the City? What if I told you that operating costs would be less than $4,000 a year after the first year? What if I told you I had a business plan put together that supported this claim? And in case you still aren’t convinced, what if I told you this business plan was based on one put together by more than a dozen cities in Massachusetts who have already implemented this?

Can you imagine the great press this would bring? Instead of only being mentioned in large newspapers when they are backing what I have to say, Ypsilanti would be written about everywhere (more, more, more, more, more, etc).

What would this say to businesses considering relocating to Ypsilanti?

What would this say to hipster kids looking for a place to call home?

Wouldn’t people look at Ypsilanti as innovative?

This plan is not going to turn Ypsi into the hipster capital of the world, but it’s a task that is realistic and relatively easy to achieve. The City is getting ready to piss away $20K to study the impact of an income tax. When you consider that since 1995 (when it became required by law for voters to approve an income tax), no city in the state of Michigan has actually passed an income tax, they could have easily funded my plan. It really does seem like an awfully simple choice.

As a post-script to this, corporate sponsorship could be solicited to fund this in lieu of asking the City to put their own money towards this project. Downtown businesses could be monthly sponsors for as little as $50 / month. This scenario does require that store owners understand the economics of wireless.

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