As elected officials, we deal with a multitude of critical issues every day.

Who can we work with to help boost local job creation efforts? How do we encourage innovative entrepreneurs to locate in our region? How best can we create an infrastructure that supports our citizens in their day-to-day lives?

In a world driven by information and innovation, access to knowledge is an indispensable part of that infrastructure. This is not a new concept: Andrew Carnegie believed that the single best path out of poverty was access to knowledge, so he built libraries.

Today, access to the high-speed Internet is a critical part of our communities’ ability to prosper. In fact, we have seen in multiple cases around the country that high-speed broadband access can be one of the single largest determinants of a community’s ability to leverage technology for economic and civic good.

That is why we are pleased that Google Fiber has announced their interest in coming to each of our cities.

We’re long past the days when dial-up access to the Internet was sufficient. In the 21st-century economy, the pace of business and the increasing demands of society require fast, efficient, affordable broadband access.

In an evolving economy such as ours, new jobs — from healthcare to manufacturing — require fast access to information and the ability to efficiently collaborate from multiple locations. Because of changes in how and where we work, we have a need for speed that extends beyond the confines of an office.

Google Fiber will bring this speed and will bring another high-speed Internet option to consumers. When multiple options exist in the economy, consumers win.

For entrepreneurs and start-up companies, broadly distributed access to ultra-high-speed Internet is a necessity. Without it here in our region, entrepreneurs will look elsewhere; with it, we can become a magnet for innovators. After Kansas City became the first Google Fiber city, the area attracted so many new entrepreneurs and tech-focused jobs that the metropolitan area is now regularly referred to as “Silicon Prairie.”

Finally, our future leaders success in the digital economy requires giving students access to digital learning tools, video-rich learning exercises, and online courses taught by the world’s best and brightest. For too many of our students, home access to the Internet is constrained by limited resources and slow speeds — and sometimes is not available at all. Google Fiber will help change that.

As the mayors of Tigard, Beaverton, Gresham, Hillsboro and Lake Oswego, we are excited about the prospects of taking a giant leap forward in our cities’ technological and information infrastructure. We will work hard to help make it happen.

Tigard Mayor John L. Cook submitted this piece along with mayors Denny Doyle of Beaverton, Jerry Willey of Hillsboro, Kent Studebaker of Lake Oswego and Shane Bemis of Gresham.

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