BURLINGTON — Vermont’s largest city is the newest partner in a national effort to create tech-savvy communities across the country.
Burlington is now a partner with US Ignite, a promoter and developer of digital technologies and city infrastructure, launching the city’s latest effort to build the next “great tech city,” Mayor Miro Weinberger said during a news conference at Dealer.com’s rooftop solarium Tuesday.
Weinberger’s optimistic vision of the city includes a rich ecosystem of tech companies and innovators spurring growth and opportunity, he said.
Weinberger said the Burlington-US Ignite partnership, BTV IGNITE, is expected to attract new businesses, foster current companies, support academic institutions and facilitate city management and community connectivity with the support of digital infrastructure and technological innovation.
“I think we’ve tapped into something real here and a desire in this community to really move the city forward toward this great tech future that I think so many of us feel is out there, that can be achieved it we set our minds to it,” he said.
US Ignite, which is supported by corporate, foundation and community partners across the country, will funnel the necessary tools, equipment and consultation to help the city develop its digital infrastructure, said William Wallace, executive director for US Ignite.
The infrastructure, which ranges from Web applications tracking the power grid to Gigabit connectivity to enhance the speed and amount of information that travels through Burlington Telecom’s existing fiber optic network, for example, will give the city a 21st century competitive edge, Wallace said.
He said his organization works to develop next-generation applications to assist the various sectors of the economy, such as health care, education, public safety, energy, transportation and manufacturing. Burlington will now be a part of that process, he said.
He said companies could use Burlington as a testing ground for assessing new products in the early stages of development if the proper infrastructure is in place. Also, companies might donate in-kind resources, such as equipment, to the city.
In exchange, Burlington will pay US Ignite an annual fee of $840, Weinberger said.
Weinberger said the city plans to create a calendar of events to support the tech community, build spaces that inspire innovation and collaboration, develop talent through mentoring, enhance existing technology infrastructure and develop Gigabit connectivity across the city.
He said Burlington was selected to be one of the planned 25 cities across the country because it has a strong base to work from and the technological capacity to grow.
The news conference also marked the launch of an advisory group, comprised of business leaders, city councilors, higher education administrative staff and professionals, that is designed to advance the goal of BTV-IGNITE. Also, the city launched a website, which serves as a hub of information for the partnership.
Weinberger will be announcing the launch at the seventh annual Vermont Tech Jam at Memorial Auditorium on Friday, where he will discuss the near-term goals of the partnership.