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The Race to Woo Google to Longview Is Rounding the Curve

LONGVIEW, Texas, March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The City of Longview on Friday urged present and former residents to nominate the city through a Web site - - designed by local entrepreneurs. The site helps residents tell Google why Longview should be a test site for broadband Internet infrastructure, and they can join a related Facebook page or follow tweets and more.

To nominate the city, it takes three steps.

Meanwhile, city administrators are answering Google's Request for Information, which the company's nominating review team will use to determine where to build the network. The city would have no financial responsibility if selected by Google.

"A critical part of the application process is support from the local community," city spokesman Shawn Hara said in a media release. "As such, the City of Longview asks residents, businesses and community organizations to tell Google why Longview would be a great choice as a trial location."

LeTourneau University students and administrators have helped with the city's nomination, producing videos that visually tell Longview's story, according to businesswoman and preservationist Lynette Goodsen. LeTourneau has earned international headlines for its students' work to construct low-cost prosthetic knees for residents in third-world countries, and it opened a new 55,000-square-foot aviation campus featuring the state's only air traffic controller program.

Local entrepreneur Shawn Hill said Google's selection of Longview would encourage technological expansion in the area, create jobs and develop a more balanced, fair marketplace.

"A businessman like myself would be interested in pursuing business interests that would keep LeTourneau students here (in Longview)," Hill said. "There will be entrepreneurs that know this, and there will be entrepreneurs who take advantage of this."

Susan Mazarakes, interim executive director of Longview Economic Development Corp., believes Longview has an economic sector with the diversity to woo Google executives. The 1930's East Texas Oil Boom brought a 20th Century population boost. Today, Longview is home to more than 75,000 residents and is hub to a three-county metro area of some 204,000 residents.

The city's top 15 employers represent medical services, manufacturing and distribution, government and education, telecommunications and retail - not oil and gas. The energy sector remains prominent in the area's economy, but leaders here learned hard lessons during the 1980s oil bust and have expanded jobs by taking advantage of its other resources - coal and iron ore, rail and highway infrastructure and abundances of water and labor.

"One of the biggest things companies look for is cost savings and time," Mazarakes said. "If you see the shape of Texas, you know what it is, but we have to tell people where Longview is. This would boost our marketing efforts."

Goodson and local activist Victoria Wilson, who co-founded Preservation Longview in 2007, agreed that Longview has a myriad of opportunities for Google. The community boasts two recognized historic neighborhoods, outdoor recreational opportunities, a collection of professional performing arts, lots of available land and school districts building eight new campuses within the city's 55 square miles. The city seeks to build a multimodal transportation center where freight, rail, air and bus transportation meet at one hub. Its two hospitals are rated among the nation's best annually for patient care and medical services, and banks have opened more than a half dozen new branches here in the past two years.

"We have it all," Wilson said. "We have it all."

Hill believes Longview - from its almost rural setting, mid-size population, education services and location between two larger markets - fits what Google executives want in a fiber-optic test community. So far, the city's Web site has accepted nearly 700 visits, and Hill said more residents must nominate Longview.

"In my house, I've nominated me, my wife and all three of my boys, because it will affect everyone in my house," Hill said. "I think we as a region in East Texas should all be vying for Google's fiber, because the result is going to be expansion sooner than any other parts of the country."


    Shawn Hill
    [email protected]

This release was issued through eReleases(TM). For more information, visit


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