DENTON — On June 10, the Caroline County Chamber of Commerce, elected town officials and even Senator Addie Eckardt, R-37, turned out for a ribbon cutting for Simple Fiber at the business’ newly renovated 14,000 square foot building at 322 Market Street. The business is literally running fiber optic cable out of its storefront to give the Eastern Shore greater access to fast internet. Simple Fiber is a Maryland based communication service provider that operates networks and has data storage racks. All of this is designed to create fast internet service.
Bret Davis, chief sales and development officer of Simple Fiber, said, “It’s 14,000 square feet. We got the data center. I already wrote the check, the building is under contract. We are super appreciative because Maryland Broadband gave us this opportunity.”
It took a year to fully renovate a dilapidated store front in Denton’s downtown business district. Both Denton Mayor Abby McNinch and Town Manager Don Mulrine seemed excited about having this new energy in town.
“Honestly, I appreciate the innovation and the commitment to our downtown. When you talk about economic development they usually talk about the 404 corridor. This is an investment in our community. You are enhancing our quality of life out here. We thank you for that,” McNinch said.
Drew Van Dopp is president and CEO of Maryland Broadband Cooperative. He spoke in front of the crowd that formed a half circle around him.
“We need an opportunity to have the types of entrepreneurship and economic development that will allow the kids and hospitals to be able to compete on an equal basis with everywhere else in Maryland and everywhere else in the world. In 16 years we have gone from an idea of bringing fiber into Wallops Island spaceflight facility to now having over 2,500 miles of route cables across the state of Maryland from Wallops Island to Ocean City to Deep Creek Lake and to all major data point centers in Baltimore and Northern Virginia,” said Van Dopp.
He noted the business even has three separate fiber optic cables that run 15 feet under the bottom of the Chesapeake.
“This is honest to goodness economic development happening in front of us. Taking a dilapidated building and turning it — let’s a say a former underutilized building — turning into a place where people are happy to work,” said Van Dopp.
Scott Warren is the executive director of the Regional Council, which uplifts connectivity in three counties — Talbot, Caroline and Dorchester.
He said, “Sen. Addie Eckardt has worked with our council and actually helped form the Regional Council when she was Del. Eckardt. (County Commissioner) Dan Franklin is a vice chair on our council, and Anthony Casey is your town and municipal representative for Caroline County. When the money started to come\, when the state passed it with the leadership of Sen. Eckardt, she turned to the five regional councils and said, ‘OK you all form it and do it.’”
Eckardt said, “It is a team effort that started back in 1996. We needed to get together to figure out infrastructure wise to get everybody connected. We had no direct access to the feds. We weren’t able to access those funds short of establishing the Regional Council. We want to make sure that everyone on the Shore is connected. And we want to have the bandwidth so I can get my emails in downtown Cambridge.”
Then it was time for the official ribbon cutting. About 25 people squeezed together as the scissors went snip on a red ribbon. Everyone cheered, and they gave tours of the new work space.