Sen. Landrieu joins local leaders for Vidalia Technology Center groundbreaking
Published 12:05 am Friday, October 31, 2014
VIDALIA — Vidalia officials gathered Thursday on the promise that moving a little dirt will be the nudge needed to move Vidalia into the 21st century.
The officials — along with representatives from the state legislature and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu — broke ground on the Vidalia Technology Center Thursday afternoon.
The $1.2 million VTC is being funded by a U.S. Commerce Department Economic Development Administration grant.
Email newsletter signup
It will house the infrastructure needed for Vidalia’s high-speed broadband initiative and spaces for small business development.
The broadband initiative seeks to bring ultra-high speed Internet access to industry, businesses and ultimately residences in the Vidalia area. City officials have in the past said the fiber optic cable installed with the project will allow up to 1 gigabyte of data per second for users.
The VTC will be located at the same North Spruce Street address as the former Vidalia City Hall, which is in the process of being demolished.
Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland thanked Landrieu (D-La.) for helping secure the funding for the project through her work on the Senate appropriations committee.
“This is a tremendous project for Vidalia,” he said. “This will move Vidalia into the 21st century with good, high-speed, fiber optic Internet.”
Landrieu — who is in the midst of a heated re-election battle — said she has a commitment to bringing high-speed Internet access to all of Louisiana’s rural parishes to aid in the creation of jobs.
The VTC’s broadband access is dependent on finding a conduit to get it to Vidalia, and Landrieu said she would continue to work with the area’s leaders to ensure it happens.
“A technology center is only as good as the technology that can be used, and you have to have that high-speed broadband, so we are not going to give up,” Landrieu said.
One of the key issues to getting the broadband access will be running the infrastructure across the Mississippi River. Vidalia city officials have said they are in talks with the Mississippi Department of Transportation to run the necessary transmission lines on the U.S. 84 Mississippi River bridge.
MDOT officials have previously said the state’s policy is not to allow utilities to be placed on bridges under its control.
The senator also briefly discussed work she’s done in recent years helping the towns of Ferriday and Jonesville to secure funding necessary to upgrade their aging water systems.
“You cannot convince businesses to come to an area and create jobs if they don’t have clean water,” she said.