|Former Detroit Pistons star Chauncey Billups speaks to the large crowd |
outside Inkster City Hall last week during the announcement of
plans for high-speed, internet in the city.
Plans were announced last week to increase internet access and speed in the city with the installation of a new $20 million fiber optic infrastructure.
Flagstar Bank officials said the company is contributing the first $1 million to Detroit-based Strategic Alliance Community Development Corp. to create the new fiber-optic infrastructure and provide high-speed broadband internet in Inkster. Ground-breaking for the project and training for workforce development will occur later this year, officials said and the project, named Smart City, is scheduled to be complete by mid-2023.
The contribution to the nonprofit organization was announced by officials last week at a ceremony at Inkster City Hall. Along with representatives from Nokia, former NBA star Chauncey Billups, city officials, members of the Motor City Leadership Council, representatives from Authority Health, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Festo, and the Michigan Roundtable were on hand along with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.
Officials from Flagstar said the pandemic intensified the need to bring reliable and affordable broadband access to underserved communities like Inkster that are challenged to attract funding for significant infrastructure projects. The pilot's success will help provide similar broadband connections to more than 100 communities in Michigan and across the country, they added.
“Streaming empowers dreaming,” said Reggie Davis, Flagstar Bank executive vice president and president of banking. “This project is an investment in Inkster's future and in the future of the entire metro area, which will benefit from having Inkster as a Smart City, where youth are plugged in, tech-savvy and job-ready. I couldn't be prouder of Flagstar for taking the lead in jump-starting this project.”
Chauncey Billups, head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers and former Detroit Pistons champion, is using his influence to help raise awareness about the disparities in economically disadvantaged communities. As the spokesperson for the Route to a Smart City initiative of the Strategic Alliance CDC, he said he is committed to helping solve these problems nationally.
“This program has so much potential to help in the fight of equality and resolution,” Billups said. “We are going to put in the work to ensure every kid in the country has an equal fighting chance.”
“We greatly appreciate the contributions of Flagstar Bank and all of our partners,” said Jason Dixon, CEO of the Strategic Alliance CDC. “Thanks to this partnership, we have the right team and the community support to make this project a reality and bring a brighter future to Inkster and its residents. By empowering Inkster, we can demonstrate to the country that projects like this can be successful, and we are looking for more partners to join us in the fight to end the digital divide.”
In total, the pilot project plans to raise $20 million through partnerships with corporations, foundations and nonprofits with a goal of launching a national deployment plan in 5-10 years. To learn more about the Inkster pilot project, visit flagstar.com/digitaldivide.