By Shaun Gibbs, South Coast Development Council Inc.
Oregon’s south coast spans 150 miles and includes four counties, 12 cities, eight ports and upward of 110,000 residents.
The region is unique. It is home to hidden beaches, vistas of the Pacific Ocean, wild rivers, unending forests, unlimited recreation and world-class golf.
These amenities are juxtaposed with economic development. The region is home to the largest deep-water seaport from San Francisco to Puget Sound, the only commercial airport on the Oregon Coast with direct flights to San Francisco International Airport, a large community college training the workforce of tomorrow, and sites and facilities offering direct rail service. The region also provides access to abundant power, fresh water and natural gas.
South Coast Development Council Inc. is the first-stop resource and direct point of contact to facilitate and manage economic development opportunities while partnering to attract, retain and expand companies that provide living wage jobs on Oregon’s south coast. We work to innovate, create, partner and collaborate.
While local assets of economic development have sustained and grown traditional industries, they are inconsistent throughout the region. However, there is one asset that is consistent—the expansive networks of high-speed broadband that have created a beacon of untapped opportunity for the future of work on Oregon’s south coast.
From the outside looking in, most people wouldn’t realize Oregon’s south coast is served by numerous broadband utilities and providers. From the city of Florence to the Port of Brookings-Harbor, access to high-speed broadband has expanded, and the
region is home to several transpacific cable landings that connect North America with international markets.
The region has seen sizable investments from companies like Zayo and CenturyLink, which have installed large in-ground infrastructure to connect Oregon’s south coast to the greater fiber networks in Eugene and the I-5 corridor. Spectrum and Ziply have invested to increase capacities and availability of easily accessible service to residents from Reedsport to Brookings-Harbor. And, most of all, we have seen innovative steps from local fiber companies and co-op power utilities, which have formed broadband subsidiaries to directly serve customers in our communities.
In the north, Hyak has installed conduit in shovel-ready areas to expedite broadband development in the city of Florence. In the center of the region, Douglas Electric Cooperative operates Douglas Fast Net, which has aerialdeployed high-speed broadband to customers in Douglas and Coos counties. Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative has launched Beacon Broadband, which has just begun building service to the south.
We are most intrigued by Beacon Broadband. The company focuses on deploying high-speed broadband while providing exceptional speeds and customer service to the homes of every co-op member throughout southern Coos and all of Curry counties in the next three to five years. We believe this investment will fuel the future of work on Oregon’s south coast while creating a beacon of prosperity in the region to attract companies and professionals from around the world, further enhancing future economic development. When thinking about the future of regional economic development and our communities, I am optimistic.
For SCDC inc. organization and partners, the future of economic vitality is centered around balancing traditional trade-sector opportunities with natural amenities; work in recreation, tourism and the blue economy; and innovation and entrepreneurship.
To accomplish this, we must focus on the future of work, which requires access to a high quality of life and highspeed connectivity. These factors have become a driving force in relocation and workforce attraction in rural communities. Oregon’s south coast will thrive on melding traditional and unconventional opportunities like those provided by Beacon Broadband.
As we work to enhance economic development throughout the region, we are excited to partner on innovative opportunities for tomorrow. The people on Oregon’s south coast are resilient. They are intelligent. They are innovative. And, most of all, they find a way to flourish.
There is no doubt in our minds that companies like Beacon Broadband will be the driving force in creating the future of work and furthering economic development partnerships to accomplish regional goals on Oregon’s south coast and a beacon of opportunity.