Over time, many Americans have moved to large urban centers to follow jobs, often in the technology sector, leaving smaller towns behind. For a place like St. Francis in northwestern Kansas, that meant the population was actually shrinking. On top of that, internet service was slow and unreliable. “We had a lot of problems just maintaining a stream of music in here which would cut out and just disappear,” said Kale Dankenbring, who had moved back to St. Francis with his wife to open a coffee shop. His wife, Heidi Plumb added, “Before when people would come in to try to do their work, they’d jump onto our Wi-Fi and something else would cut out. How do ask somebody when they come in to get coffee ‘can you wait until our internet is back up to pay?”
Enter Eagle Communications. The rural broadband company partnered with St. Francis after town leaders came to Eagle with the desire to build a gigabit speed network. The partnership with St. Francis is unique in that Eagle was able to work with the town to aggregate demand—or to come up with enough community members who were willing to sign up for the service. Together, they were able to make the project happen, justifying the cost, effort, and long-term sustainability of an ultra-fast broadband network.
Sine the network buildout, St. Francis has seen 11 new businesses open and nine new commercial ventures have sprung up. A town that once felt left behind was suddenly on its way up. Young people started to move back, because they could now work remotely thanks to Eagle’s high-speed reliable broadband network.
As for the coffee shop? They now regularly have customers streaming media and doing work, with no interruption to their business. In fact, they’re now able to bring the business online which has made their regional distribution run so well that they’re hoping to expand. But even more importantly, the network has turned the coffee shop into a community space. “I have never felt so connected to my community more so than living here,” Heidi Plumb professes, “When people come in here they feel that sense of community and family.”