Originally published: January 21, 2012
Last updated: January 21, 2012 - 2:55pm
[Commentary] All of you who believe in broadband’s impact on economic development (or are a little jealous of stories like this about Chattanooga’s 1 gigabit network), should look to the Green Bay Packers of the NFL for the key to financing your broadband network. The franchise raised $70 million to rehab its football stadium (Lambeau Field) by selling 280,000 stock shares to individuals at $250 a pop. They pulled off this amazing feat in just five weeks! The Green Bay Packers are a nonprofit corporation owned by local residents and businesses. Packers pride enabled Green Bay to outdo tech companies that can’t get an initial public offering off the ground, let alone raise $70 million. If Green Bay can do all this for a football field, can’t your hometown or county convince constituents to raise just a few million for a broadband network?
What if you create a nonprofit organization similar to the Packers, but with the goal being to build a broadband network, and then sell stock that:
- gives constituents ownership of a vital community asset;
- makes the benefits of broadband available to everyone in the community at affordable prices;
- potentially makes some amount of money for investors when the network makes a profit; and
- creates a mechanism for raising additional money for economic development projects.