|Wi-Fi part of Michigan City plan|
|City looks to enhance business district with free high-speed Internet|
|BY SUSAN ERLER
MICHIGAN CITY | The city hopes to lure more business to downtown by setting up free high-speed Internet access in the Franklin Street corridor.“We want to give a leg-up to the businesses that are there and the businesses looking to locate there,” said Kevin Kieft, of the Michigan City Economic Development Corp.City officials reached an agreement with service provider NetNitco to install the equipment in the downtown area, Kieft said.
The Wi-Fi project will make it possible for businesses to communicate with clients and Chicago offices or conduct meetings from vessels docked in the nearby city marina, Mayor Chuck Oberlie said.
“Tourists will be able to surf the Net in between visiting some of our prime attractions and development areas — at no cost to them,” Oberlie said in a prepared statement.
The wireless service will cover the downtown area from 11th Street to Fourth Street with one megabit of bandwidth, and it will cover 90 percent of the area outside as well as most external-wall rooms of buildings, Kieft said.
Equipment will be installed on city infrastructure, including light poles, buildings and traffic signals.
The move is the first step in a Michigan City Chamber of Commerce-led charge for more downtown business development, Kieft said.
Officials hope to create an arts and entertainment center in the Franklin Street area, he said.
“We’re trying to work on getting a few more restaurants and a two- or three-block artist district,” Kieft said.
The Wi-Fi installation, expected to be completed by late next month, was timed to coincide with the opening of summer visitor attractions in the city, including a nearby zoo and city park, as well as Blue Chip casino.