By Nathaniel A. Lopez
The Town of Superior continues to make strides, bringing modern infrastructure for its citizens.
On Friday, Dec. 1, the Town of Superior held a broadband ribbon cutting ceremony with Wecom Fiber at the Superior Multigenerational Center. Wecom’s broadband network will connect anchor institutions of the community, including the Superior Enterprise Center, Superior Chamber of Commerce, Superior Police and Fire Departments, Town Hall, and the Superior Public Library. This will be the first phase of Wecom’s initiative to bring high speed internet to every home and business in Superior.
The former gymnasium at the Multigenerational center was set up with a stage for those presenting to talk to the crowd. Wecom provided a table with coffee and refreshments. Opening the ceremony was Paul Fleming, CEO of Wecom.
“Thank you everyone for being here. We’re thrilled to be here in Superior with this fantastic group of local leaders, and we’re excited to talk about the fiber internet that we’re launching today,” began Paul Fleming. “Our goal is straight forward, it is to bring fast, affordable, reliable internet to every corner of Arizona. This means every home, every school, every business, every residence, everyone, and perhaps nowhere in Arizona needs broadband more than right here in Superior.”
According to Wecom, there are more than 67,000 homes and locations in Pinal County that are registered by the federal government as unserved or underserved for high speed internet.
“(This) includes virtually every single building in the town of Superior,” Fleming added. “That’s an acceptable statistic. It’s unacceptable that a town as vibrant and thriving as your community is completely underserved.”
Superior Mayor Mila Besich welcomed Fleming to Superior. She explained that the investment Wecom is making in Superior is a private investment, one she hopes will be expanded using federal funds coming to the State of Arizona.
“Since I’ve become the Mayor, one of the things that I’ve learned a lot about is digital equity. What is digital equity to me, might be different than what it means to a business owner, might be different what it means to a single mom, or a senior citizen in our community,” she said. “We are so fortunate in Superior to have this opportunity to have this technology that is coming to our community. When I returned home in 2007, I had the opportunity to work for my good friend Hank Gutierrez. He was in charge of a project to bring high speed internet to Superior. It was kind of the first invitation that ‘things are happening back home and you should return’. I learned about digital equity before that was a buzzword, and that was because the Central Arizona Governments existed in our downtown. Yet they could not get high speed internet. This was a business that represented two counties, and 14 different communities, and we could not get high speed internet. The mine could have it. The county could have it. The town had a glimpse of it through our police and library services. As I prepared my remarks, I thought about those moments, about how far we’ve come to arrive at digital equity for our community and how important that is.
“There was at one time a leader in this community that said ‘we’ll never have high speed internet here because the mineralization of geography in our community would prevent us from having that.’ We were also told flat out by industry leaders that there would never be a return on investment for Superior to have high speed internet, and nonetheless we stayed resilient, every opportunity we had to work with local small business, whether it’s been our small providers that are getting started today, to now being at a point where we can have Wecom Fiber come into our community. We are truly blessed, and on behalf of my colleagues on the council, our staff, and every resident in Superior, thank you, Wecom, for making this investment in Superior. We want to be a shining star for what rural Arizona can do, but we want to be partners in making sure there’s digital equity for all, and Arizona’s in the right point to do that and be a shining example, not only for our state, but in our entire country.”
Pinal County District 5 Chairman, Jeff Serdy praised Wecom and their choice of Superior.
“What’s great about a community like this, the people chose to live out here,” Serdy said. “They have every right to have the same services the metropolitan area has. People don’t always want to live downtown, or in the city. These communities are the backbone of America, and this is so much for the students, the businesses, the police, and the first responders.”
One of the early beneficiaries of the investment will be the Superior Enterprise Center. Arlynn Godinez, Program Director for Rebuild Superior Inc., spoke about the roll the Superior Enterprise Center fills for Superior.
“(The Center’s role is) to serve as a transformative catalyst, to diversify Superior’s economy through business services and workforce training, a one stop shop for resources, training, and information. A hub for connectivity and learning.”
High speed internet, she explained, will help the growth of businesses and the community.
“With the help of Wecom, we can truly become the hub for connectivity and learning,” concluded Godinez.
Senior Advisor for Economic and Workforce Development at Resolution Copper, Bryan Seppala spoke on how the broadband investment from Wecom will help grow the workforce and economy of the town and help Resolution Copper succeed in their programs that they have planned for the future.
Lastly Jessie Arroyos, Director of the Superior Chamber of Commerce spoke about the great possibilities of new businesses, and how current businesses will be able to thrive given the opportunity to have reliable and quality internet.
Following the remarks, the presenters went outside where they gathered to cut the ribbon. Mayor Besich held the gigantic scissors and cut the ribbon, signifying that the times are a-changing, and the future of Superior is moving forward.