By Zach Hagadone
Nampa Mayor Tom Dale officially kicked off the city’s free downtown WiFi hot spot on Dec. 9, surfing the Web on a laptop computer at Honker’s Café, 1210 2nd St. S.
The new service, which provides free wireless Internet access at businesses in Nampa’s historic downtown core, was paid for with a grant from Nampa-based Capital Matrix, a development company that works with the Small Business Administration and private sector lenders to support small businesses.
Officials with Capital Matrix were present Dec. 9 to present Dale with a $17,467.50 check in support of the project. The company’s “community initiative” grant program paid for the equipment necessary to set up the system, and also supported signs and marketing materials to help downtown businesses advertise the free Internet system.
“It really enhances the opportunity for existing businesses down here to attract customers in to access a WiFi connection while they enjoy dinner, or have a cup of coffee or conduct business,” Dale said. “It also enhances our ability to reach out to businesses that may want to relocate down there.”
Nampa contracted with Meridian-based Indigo Networks to install the network, and downtown businesses offered rooftop space to house the equipment. Some business owners even opted to invest extra money to boost the signal in their area.
According to city spokeswoman Sharla Arledge, the hot spot covers about nine square blocks from Front Street to Third Street South, and from 11th Avenue North to “just about” 14th Avenue South. A map of the coverage area and signal strengths is available here.
The city has invested more than $2 million in infrastructure and planning over the past four years to improve its downtown – including waterline upgrades, new brick crosswalks and rehabilitation of historic facades.
City officials said the WiFi hot spot is one more economic development tool, providing additional reasons for people to visit downtown and spurring the location of new businesses, restaurants and offices.
“I don’t think there is a capstone on continuing to revitalize and develop our downtown. It is another stepping stone to revitalizing the entire historic downtown area,” Dale said.