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County backs Clarkson Internet project


CANTON — St. Lawrence County lawmakers Monday pledged support for Clarkson University's plans to wire the Adirondack Park and beyond for broadband Internet.

Legislators at Monday's Operations Committee meeting voted unanimously to contribute $10,000 toward the project and submit a letter of support for Clarkson's application for federal stimulus funding to pay for it.

The university's proposal, dubbed the Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, has a goal to get 2,019 telecommuters online in and around the Adirondack Park by 2019. The idea is to attract more professionals to the area by allowing them to work online from home and expand Web business opportunities for small entrepreneurs.

Laura J. Perry, D-Hopkinton, the Legislature's Information Technology Committee chairwoman, said Clarkson's project also will establish computing centers to provide technology support via phones, fax machines, Internet access and Web training seminars for small businesses and professionals.

"We want to connect folks inside the park with folks outside, without changing the character of the park," said Kevin P. Lynch, Clarkson's network services director.

If the university's stimulus application is approved, Mr. Lynch said, the funding would span three years and require a 20 percent local match. He said the university wants to keep the project going beyond the three-year mark, and part of the money will be used to hire a development coordinator to secure long-term service provider commitments.

He said the university has secured about $80,000 of a $100,000 local match for the $500,000 project, and is seeking support from other north country counties whose residents also will benefit.

Mr. Lynch said projects with multiple partners are especially favored for stimulus funding. The state's Office for Technology will decide which projects get stimulus money, and Mr. Lynch said its officials already are warm to the idea.

"If they don't approve this sort of thing, I can't imagine they'd support anything," said Legislator Peter W. FitzRandolph, D-Canton.

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