SAN LEANDRO//TECHNOLOGY | Lit San Leandro, the much discussed and celebrated fiber optic loop system routed though the city’s conduits, received a recent boost last week by way of a federal grant of $2.1 million for the expansion of the fiber optic network.

The grant will enable the city to bring the fiber optic network to additional businesses that Patrick Kennedy, CEO of OSIsoft and founder of Lit San Leandro, hopes to rally; such as green energy, advanced manufacturing, 3D printing, teleconference studios, genomic services, private clouds and medical research.

Unlike other Bay Area cities, San Leandro has garnered it self a unique opportunity to pull businesses to San Leandro because it has retained 90 percent of its industrial land. Last October San Leandro’s unemployment rating was recorded at a 9.9 percent, a decrease from its previous month and the first time since it was below 10 percent in April 2009.

In the post-Great Recession era coupled with globalization America has witnessed stagnation in manufacturing growth because of the shift to cheap labor overseas and slow employment ratings. The Lit San Leandro project focuses on skilled labor that can be tapped into by a high speed communication network like hybrid manufacturing. Kennedy has been vocal about this, “I predict that one of the early adopters will be hybrid manufacturing that ‘wrap the steel’ in areas of low cost labor, but bring the partial assembly to the US for the addition of sophisticated electronics, computers and the ‘all glass’ dashboards.”

The flexible fiber loop will be able to process about 10 gigabytes of information per second; a lighting fast capacity that the City hopes will be a lucrative attraction for businesses of the digital era. Once the EDA funds have been completed then the expansion will be able to begin; with an estimated timeline for completion at about a year. The City says the expansion will bring the fiber optic loop to the majority of commercial and industrial properties in San Leandro.

Despite a minor criticism of Mayor Steven Cassidy during his State of the City address earlier this year when an ebullient citizen lambasted Cassidy for his animate support for Lit San Leandro, a corporate entity, while pressing for pension reform; the Lit San Leandro project has witnessed wide support. The project has been a talking point among candidates for city council this year with candidates talking up its opportunity. The project has become a beacon for San Leandro’s economic climate that’s seen grey skies since 2008.

Despite the talk of job growth in America the results have been relatively modest and in a globalized economy America may never see some of the jobs it’s lost in unskilled manufacturing return ever again. Lit San Leandro’s goal is to bring skilled manufacturing to San Leandro while reaping the rewards for business investment into its lines.

Shane Bond is a contributor to the East Bay Citizen