The town of Culver wanted higher speeds for internet, but at 1,200 residents, larger companies weren't interested in investing in the community.
But town officials weren't deterred, so they started an internet task force that made fiber internet a top priority.
As a result, the town identified Elkhart-based Surf Internet as a partner that could make their goal reality. The company invested almost $800,000 in the project, along with more than $530,000 raised by the Culver Redevelopment Commission.
“The broadband fiber project was the result of collaboration: a volunteer committee of people here in Culver, an investment from the Culver Redevelopment Commission, and a terrific company like Surf willing to invest in Culver,” said Ginny Munroe, former town manager and former council president. “Broadband fiber was at the top of the list of priorities that had come out of surveying our schools, businesses and residents. The icing on the cake was being able to work with a company like Surf. They cared about rolling this project out as smoothly as we wanted them to, and they proved why they have an excellent reputation for their work.”
Residents quickly saw the difference. The Luttrell family was the first to use the service.
“We have been very happy with Surf’s fiber (internet) service,” said Jennifer Luttrell, a local real estate agent. “With working from home remotely at times to streaming movies, our service has relieved a lot of headaches in not having to wait so long on the internet!”
Visitors to the town will like the higher speeds too.
“Culver has always been an ideal destination for vacationers,” said Marty Oosterbaan, president of the Culver Redevelopment Commission. “Now, it’s an ideal spot for remote workers as well.”
Gene Crusie, Surf CEO, said partnerships like the one that led to Culver's higher speeds can lead to solutions that seem impossible.
“It’s exciting to see the transformative impact this will have on everything from education, to health care and remote work,” Crusie said.
Surf Internet also is working on the final phase of construction in the town of LaPaz also in Marshall County. Surf invested $1.5 million in private capital for the project, according to a press release. Marshall County commissioners awarded a $500,000 American Rescue Plan Act grant to help. The project will ultimately connect LaPaz to Lake of the Woods and Bremen.
“Surf Internet’s expansion of their fiber internet network into Marshall County will directly contribute to the economic vitality of this region,” said Marshall County Commissioner Kevin Overmyer. “Advanced connectivity means increased opportunities for our residents in every area of their lives. High-speed internet helps people work more effectively from home, delivers better access to health care, and gives our children better tools for education.”
Surf Internet is committed to providing fiber-optic broadband to communities in the Great Lakes region of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. It employs 140 people, and has six offices.
Caption: The first Culver residents to receive Surf Internet fiber-optic internet was the Luttrell family. (Provided by Surf Internet)