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ROCKPORT, Texas – As the coastal communities struck by Hurricane Harvey work on rebuilding, they also look to incorporate the latest technologies, innovative infrastructure, and opportunities for economic growth. To support these goals, the College of Business (COB) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is bringing together national experts to share ideas in a series of summits called The Connected Coast.
“The Island University, as represented by the COB Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center, is providing an opportunity for these smaller rural communities that are part of what’s called ‘the presidential designated impact area’ from Hurricane Harvey the opportunity to envision a future that is more than just recovery,” said Dr. Kent Byus, COB Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship.
The first summit was held in Rockport in September 2018 and focused on broadband. Richard Amato from Global Energy Leader IC2 in Austin participated. He said it pays to be forward thinking while rebuilding.
“When your building infrastructure projects, often times, you can do it at a discounted rate if you build together,” said Amato. “If you are building a road, a new sewer system, or water system where you are already trenching for gas lines, it’s very easy to throw the additional conduit at that point and then you can add the fiber later.”
Community leaders and participants at the summit spoke about the need for broadband not only in times of a natural disaster for emergency communication and telehealth services, but also post-disaster.
“It matters to how fast you can rise up,” said Jordana Barton, Senior Advisor for Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “Business and everything that relies on broadband infrastructure can come back faster.”
Byus said the knowledge and resources shared at the summits provide communities with an opportunity to reshape their economic development in a way that can potentially take communities to a more prosperous level than they were before.
The second summit in the series focused on infrastructure and was held in Corpus Christi in November 2018. The next summits planned in 2019 will focus on Innovation of Technology and Risk Mitigation and Preparedness.
All the summits are in-line with economic recovery goals as defined by the Economic Development Administration for long-term economic development and resilience planning.