Going OnLight in Downtown Aurora

Annie's Om Towne Fitness

 

DOWNTOWN AURORA – The first multi-tenant business building in downtown Aurora is now connected to the city’s fiber optic network, OnLight Aurora officials announced at an open house meeting for OnLight held at the Aurora Police Department at the end of January.

The old Metropolitan Business Building at Stolp Avenue and Downer Place has now been connected to the network via the non-profit OnLight Aurora, said Alderman Rick Mervine, 8th Ward, who serves on the OnLight Aurora Board of Directors.

The building, which houses River’s Edge Cafe, Annie’s Om Towne Fitness, Fox Valley Homebrew and other tenants, is owned by downtown developer Dan Hites.

Hites, who purchased the building about 15 years ago, said the fiber optic connectivity has the ability to set downtown Aurora apart from other downtowns across the state. It adds value for his existing and future tenants, he said.

“I just look at this as a wonderful opportunity for downtown,” Hites said. “It gives downtown the perfect niche to get into the technology field and gives it an asset that a lot of other towns around here don’t have.”

Hites newest tenant, JJX Packaging, a packaging and design firm, decided to locate their start up offices in downtown Aurora in part because of the access to the fiber optic network, said Chris Kuntzi, owner of the firm. A key part of his business is communicating with Chinese manufacturers who make the packaging the firm designs and sells out of the Aurora office.

The fiber optic connectivity made it an “easy decision” to locate his start up business in downtown Aurora, he said.

“As I was vetting out locations, Internet connectivity is something that can be costly,” said Kuntzi, of DeKalb.

Because he didn’t have to invest heavily in equipment, Kuntzi is able to focus on getting his business off the ground instead, he said.

Kuntzi, who moved into the building earlier this month, said he now employs four people and has plans to employ four more in the next six months.

Hites’ Downer Place building will be the first of many to connect to the fiber optic network in downtown, Mervine said. In the coming years, the network will act as a significant economic development driver in the city, he said.

“Making downtown buildings more attractive to businesses is a key part of that,” he said.

The city’s fiber optic network began as a 43-mile ring in 2007. Today, that underground network encompasses 60 miles of fiber, Mervine said, with substantial capacity to expand over the next few years.

OnLight Aurora is a non-profit tasked with connecting the city’s fiber optic network to community institutions. To date, the West Aurora School District, Illinois Math and Science Academy, Alarm Detection Systems and Rush-Copley Medical Center, among others, have connected to the network.

Story courtesy of The Beacon-News, Feb. 2, 2014.