Entrepreneurs can go for a 'test drive' of Independence

Program hopes to bring jobs to town

INDEPENDENCE — Shawn Irvine is hoping a new campaign will encourage technology companies to give Independence a try.

Test Drive Independence will give companies an office space in the Independence Civic Center and access to 10 gigabits of upload and download speeds from MINET for 90 days, all free of charge.

Irvine hopes the program will bring more jobs into town, while showing off what Independence — both in business and in community — has to offer.

“If you want the latest and greatest, cutting-edge technologies, you go to Independence,” said Irvine, the city’s economic development director.

The pitch? Independence has fiberoptics in every home and business in town, Irvine said.

“So what better place to field test your technologies than a small town like Independence?” he asked. “We’re easy to work with, easy to access, and a small network that’s easy to work with and as high tech as anything Google’s got.”

The aim isn’t necessarily to attract broadband dependent start-up companies, but rather to invite those that are developing new technologies a place to test them.

“Companies are out there right now developing technologies that will use that type of capacity (10 gigabits), with smart grids, telemedicine, in-home patient monitoring, things like that,” Irvine said.

He is working on putting together better demographics of the town to help companies see if Independence has the people they would want to test their products.

If a company wanted to test its product on people aged 65 or older who have diabetes, for example, anyone who fit that description could sign up to test the product for free.

There is negligible cost to the city of Independence, Irvine said. With MINET already established, the infrastructure is already there.

“From our perspective, this is a marketing thing,” he said. “We’re trying to get these kinds of people into the community to see what a good community it is, and make a name for ourselves.”

Maybe large tech companies will set up a satellite office in Independence, Irvine added.

“Independence is a small town,” he said. “It has everything you want in a small town. It’s centrally located in the valley, and it has fabulous broadband capacity. You can come here and live happily.”

For more information: www.testdriveindependence.com.

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