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Kansas City mayors form Innovation Team to capitalize on Google Fiber

Upload and download speeds, it appears, are far from the only things that will be accelerated by the arrival of Google’s Ultra-High Speed Network in Kansas City. The impending installation of the Google Fiber network has also helped jump-start a collaborative effort between city governments of both Kansas Citys.

Sly James (far left, photo from kcmo.org), the mayor of Kansas City, Mo. and Joe Reardon (near left, photo from facebook.com), the mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., recently announced the formation of a Mayors’ Bi-State Innovation Team, which was established to leverage Google’s fiber network to create business opportunities that will benefit the entire Kansas City metro area. The two mayors joined a crowd of a few hundred people on Tuesday at Rockhurst University to celebrate the collaborative effort at an event sponsored by Rockhurst and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

Google announced in March that it had chosen Kansas City, Kan. from more than 1,100 applicant cities to receive its one-gigabit fiber network, which delivers internet service that’s up to 100 times faster than the high-speed broadband in most U.S. homes. In May, Google revealed plans to expand that coverage to the Missouri side of State Line Road.

At Tuesday’s event, James named Mike Burke, his onetime mayoral opponent, as his co-chairman for the innovation team. Reardon appointed Ray Daniels, formerly the superintendent of schools for Kansas City, Kan., as his co-chair. The innovation team will include 10 people in total — five each from either side of the state line.

A story today in the Kansas City Star likened last night’s event to “a Casablanca moment,” or “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” James and Reardon both suggested the cities’ efforts in conjunction with the Google’s network, which is scheduled to be operational early next year, could provide a blueprint for further collaboration between the two cities, which could have greater economic implications for the area. 

“Economies of scale,” James said, “is the best way to do that.”

“The upside potential,” Reardon added, “is very exciting.”