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Eugene receives $150,000 tech grant and title of 'Gigabit City'

EUGENE, Ore. – Eugene is the first Gigabit City on the west coast. The non-profit internet provider Mozilla announced the globally credible title to Eugene Tuesday.

Now, Eugene will get $150,000 in funding to go to local programs. The goal is to connect tech industries to the community. Mozilla said Eugene has an innovative tech industry and they want to spread the word.

“This will help tell the rest of the world that we are innovative,” said Anne Fifield, economic development planner for the City of Eugene.

Eugene is joining four other cities around the world known for their high speed internet.

“For Mozilla, this is all about making sure that the future of the web isn't just reflective of what technologists think it should look like, but is really representative of a large cross section and viewpoints and perspectives,” said Lindsey Frost, Mozilla program director.

Frost said the Eugene community stood out from 47 other potential cities.

“You guys had 15 to 20 people show up talking about your community and what a wonderful network of people you have already thinking about the issues that Mozilla cares about,” she said.

“It validates the work the work that we've been doing for a long time,” Fifield said.

Fifield said the city worked hard since 2014 to get a strong fiber network in downtown Eugene.

The $150,000 grant will help community organizations grow.

“I don't know what we'll see, which is I think the most exciting part. I think it's an opportunity for folks I don't even know are out there to come forward with new ideas,” Fifield said.

Matt Sayre, director of the Technology Association of Oregon, said the grant will create learning opportunities useful for future job opportunities.

“Fifty-three percent of students in Lane County live in poverty. The same time, on the other end of the spectrum, an average tech worker in Lane County making $74,000 a year. So the question is, how do we get those kids into these jobs?” Sayre said.

Grant money will be given to educators, entrepreneurs and innovators who rely on high speed internet. The title of Gigabit City will help the local economy.

“It makes it more widely known as a place where other tech companies should come,” Sayre said.

The other four Gigabit Cities include Lafayette, La., Austin, Texas, Kansas City, Mo., and Chattanooga, Tenn.

March 21, the Technology Association of Oregon is celebrating the community win with a fiber project launch ceremony at the Minor Building in Eugene.

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