Marshall County council approves fiber-optic Metronet project

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It has been a long road for those trying to make Marshall County more tech-friendly.

Now, the county council has given the green light for a project that will bring fiber optic cable into the area.

The council made a motion to approve the project at a meeting Tuesday morning.

The technology will make cities like Plymouth more attractive for businesses.

Fiber-optic Metronet is already in place in South Bend and Mishawaka. The fiber stops at Ireland Road, leaving places like Lakeville lagging behind in terms of bandwidth.

Communities are coming together to gather the funds for the more than $3 million project.

“It opens up our world,” said county commissioner Kevin Overmyer.

“Dark fiber today is what electricity was back in the 40s and 50s. We are the trend-setter. Set the standard. We have a plan in place. We have accomplished it locally not with help from anybody else.”

Marshall County is expected to contribute $500,000. The council’s approval of the project is a positive sign. Council members must now appropriate the funds for the project at a meeting in January.

St. Joseph County will also get involved – paying up about $250,000.
Plymouth will see some major benefits to the Metronet. The city will pitch in with the hefty sum of $1.3 million.

“It’s become a public private-partnership,” Overmyer said. “It is especially great when you have three government agencies - two counties and a city - combining to do something for economic development.”

The Metronet will increase bandwidth in these areas so files can be quickly transferred.

The slow internet connection and low bandwidth has created some trouble for Hoosier Racing Tire in the past. So, the company is joining in on the effort to get the new technology in place.

St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, which has a campus in Plymouth, will also offer up funds.

Evermyer said the goal is to award a bid in March, have the work started in April and be finished by September 2014.

The county council still has to appropriate funds for the project at a meeting next month.