STL Summit focuses on fast Internet access

ST. LOUIS - Economic development leaders say better broadband means more business for the city, so next week, speakers from across the country will head to St. Louis to talk about the importance of fast Internet access.

The conversation is especially important because of St. Louis' growing start-up industry.

Take Rovertown, a company started in 2009.

"We started in my bedroom," said co-founder Mike Philip.

Now, more than two million students use the app to get discounts on their smartphone.

Two floors down in the tech-friendly T-Rex building is Have You Seen The Ring. It is an online marketplace for pre-owned diamonds engagement rings that verifies they're real.

"I couldn't find a place that provided the guarantees that I needed so I came up with the idea," said founder Phil Johnson.

The two businesses, which are a couple of many located in T-Rex, are very different. But, they do have an important thing in common.

"If pages take a long time to load, people just switch off and go somewhere else," Johnson said.

"Sometimes in today's businesses it's all about every single second, not just the seconds, but the milliseconds," said Philip.

And economic development leaders say the milliseconds are starting to count, not only to St. Louis start-ups but to every business in the region.

Next week, the St. Louis Regional Broadband Summit aims to educate on how critical faster broadband is becoming.

"… As critical as railroad bridges were 100 years ago," said Steve Johnson, who's helping organize the summit for the St. Louis Regional Chamber. "Part of the message of the summit is directed at municipalities to make it as easy and painless as possible for the Internet providers to come into the city."

The summit will be September 11 starting at 7:15 a.m. at the Centene Corporate Plaza.


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