Video Summary #
- 00:18 – Johnson explains that the GigaZone TechXpo is about more than gaming and includes career paths.
- 01:36 – Johnson talks about the surreal experience of spending time with the technology icon, Steve Wozniak.
- 02:59 – The attendees of the event reflected the community.
- 03:53 – It was an inclusionary event that plays into the importance of involving the entire community, which was a common theme of NTCA’s SRC Live.
- 04:54 – Partnerships, like PBC and Greater Bemidji’s, are important to maximizing the value of an all-fiber network.
An Audience that Reflects PBC’s Membership #
In the above interview filmed at NTCA’s SRC Live, Gary Johnson, CEO/General Manager for Paul Bunyan Communications, describes their most recent GigaZone TechXpo. He observes that it attracted an audience that reflects PBC’s membership. This extended community event, which drew over 4,000 attendees from the greater Bemidji region, showcased technologies that thrive thanks to PBC’s all-fiber network.
Featuring the one and only Woz (Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak), this was more than a fun gaming event. It also provided attendees with career-path options, in IT and other technology-centric areas, that they might not otherwise consider. It was an opportunity for over 30 exhibitors to demonstrate the role technology plays in their businesses while pitching potential customers and employees about their offerings.¹
The theme of the GigaZone TechXpo plays to Johnson’s earlier comments about building out the ecosystem and creating new possibilities, thanks to an all-fiber network. There are direct benefits, such as increased home values (See this Facebook post on how PBC promotes this attribute), but there are also the economic impact multipliers from such a foundational infrastructure.
To achieve the full economic benefit of fiber, community partners, such as Greater Bemidji, are necessary. They develop complementary programs, such as 218 Relocate, that add energy, people, and ideas to fully exploit the power of fiber. This tight relationship was in evidence at SRC Live, as Greater Bemidji’s Executive Director, Dave Hengel, accompanied Johnson to learn and share with other Smart Rural Community leaders.
The GigaZone TechXpo is the kind of involvement that differentiates locally owned and managed ISPs from larger, out-of-town competitors. It is a great example of the community-centric approach that state broadband offices will look for as they distribute BEAD funding in the coming years.