Reimagining Business in Chicago's South Side
Network investment in fiber and advanced technologies continues to buoy economic growth for nearly 300 local businesses.
Three years ago, Comcast Business added more than five miles of fiber optic network to Chicago’s Back of the Yards and Bridgeport neighborhoods. The network delivers internet speeds of up to 10 Gbps – and up to 100 Gbps on a case-by-case basis – to nearly 300 small- and medium-sized businesses in the industrial and business area from South Halsted Street west to South Ashland Avenue and from 31st Street south to 47th Street. Access to such fast and reliable connectivity has become a boon to local businesses and helped spur local job and economic growth.
In addition to fiber, the proactive infrastructure investment enables local businesses to leverage Comcast Business’ wide array of advanced services, including Ethernet, Internet, Advanced Voice and value-added cloud services, to optimize operations that increasingly require high-speed, high-capacity networks. Other Comcast solutions that these companies can engage to enhance their business includes Connection Pro, which protects valuable data by automatically backing up a customer’s network in case of outages; WiFi Pro, a mobile-friendly tool that allows businesses to manage customer- and internal-facing networks; and Smart Office, which gives business owners round-the-clock views of their property through cloud-based video monitoring for increased security.
“We originally invested in Back of The Yards and Bridgeport in response to growing demand for our business technology, as well as to help stimulate economic growth in the local emerging business corridor,” said Jay Dirkmaat, regional vice president of Comcast Business. “Those goals still resonate today: By increasing bandwidth and speed, the addition of our advanced network has given the two neighborhoods access to applications, cloud services and the technology infrastructure necessary for local businesses to survive and compete.”
What’s more, the investment aligns with efforts many local communities are making to expand their telecommunications and information technology infrastructure to gain a competitive edge. For Craig Chico, president and CEO of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, Comcast’s fiber buildout has been a gamechanger in his ability to attract and retain businesses to the area.
“When we market our community to prospective businesses, one of the first questions they ask is, ‘can I get fiber?’” said Chico. “Fiber access is a powerful differentiator and business magnet for us, since fast and reliable broadband is so critical to business success. It gives our local businesses a technology capability boost, which helps them expand and compete.”
One such business partnering with Comcast Business to innovate its approach is Morgan Services, a 130-year old textile rental company that specializes in linen and uniform rentals and industrial laundry services. With headquarters in downtown Chicago and facilities nationwide, Morgan Services leverages Comcast Business technology to reinvent how it runs its Back of the Yards material processing facility – the most automated and technically advanced of its nine processing facilities across the country. While laundry services may seem simple enough, Morgan Services’ far-reaching operations require intricate, real-time data to ensure orders are processed correctly and on time.
“Since using Comcast’s advanced network, our internet speeds have doubled, and our broadband now has the capacity to run a host of operational and logistical functions that help us work more efficiently,” said Brian Berg, director of IT at Morgan Services. “From coordinating orders with our mobile workforce to tracking linen and uniform shipments through RFID chips, Comcast has been an essential partner every step of the way in ensuring our technology is up to the task.”
Another Back of The Yards company utilizing Comcast’s advanced technologies is La Guadalupana, a Hispanic food manufacturer and distributor with another location in Brighton Park, another Chicago neighborhood. Before working with Comcast, tracking orders of its renowned masa and tamales was challenging for the company – its sales people are constantly on the move, and filling orders from the field was difficult. Once La Guadalupana tapped Comcast’s Advanced Voice service, however, that changed.
“With Comcast Business’ services, we’re able to process orders and manage our sales team better than ever before,” said Alejandro Castro, president of La Guadalupana. “With our previous phone system, it was easy to lose track of orders and miss out on sales. That doesn’t happen anymore, because Comcast Business’ VoiceEdge cloud-based support allows us to take calls and retrieve messages regardless of our staff’s location. It’s a huge benefit that gives us peace-of-mind.”
Beyond Back of the Yards and Bridgeport, the company has completed network expansions in downtown Chicago, as well as in other business and industrial hubs in diverse areas across the Chicago area, such as Goose Island; the Peterson Pulaski Business and Industrial Park; near O’Hare and Midway airports; Interstate 88 in the west suburbs and Interstate 90 in the northwest suburbs; West Chicago; and in Elgin and South Elgin, among others.