- Reshaping the
Richest Hill into a Cyber Village
by George Everett
- Butte, Montana
is the home of the second largest National Historic Landmark
District in the country with nearly 5,000 historic structures
within its boundaries. Some of these buildings are high-rise
commercial buildings built when the nation was young and Butte
was a booming copper metropolis.
Now the local economic development organization, the Butte
Local Development Corporation (BLDC) has proposed to retrofit a few
of these older buildings to make room for a "cyber village"
inhabited with businesses working in the expanding Internet economy.
The Executive Director of the BLDC, Evan Barrett explains, "A
"Silicon Valley' business does not have to be in California
or Oregon or Washington to compete on the Internet. ASiMI, for
one, has proven that." ASiMI is Advanced Silicon Materials,
Inc., a corporation that built a $500 million dollar silicon
processing plant near Butte in 1998 on land that still sells
for $2,000 an acre.
The idea is to take advantage of ample available office space
in a 30-block area and transform them to serve high-tech companies
who may want to move their physical operations to a new location.
The heart of the "cyber village" idea is to place two
"fiber hotels," -- clean room facilities that can house
delicate computer equipment required to power many Internet-based
Butte has thousands of square feet of office space available
in historical buildings that could be retrofitted to accommodate
high-tech businesses. Also, the available space is built close
together making it easier to link the buildings by cable connections
that allow them to work together.
The available space, even after being retrofitted, would be much
less expensive than what businesses pay elsewhere in the region
or even in other parts of Montana.
While it might appear at first glance like a long stretch, Butte
has already welcomed high-tech companies such as ASiMI and the
rapidly expanding telecommunications company, Touch America,
which owns thousands of miles of fiber optic cable throughout
Companies that take a close look may be attracted by what they
don't see. They won't find traffic jams, or a high cost of living
while they will find uncrowded skiing, hiking, and other outdoor
recreational opportunities while being able to take advantage
of the Internet economy.
For more details about the Cyber Village in Butte, Montana, visit
their web site at http://www.cybervillagebutte.com or call the BLDC at