WINTER 2023 3 SOLUTIONS While our primary role at Panora Fiber is to keep you connected through communications services—including Fiber Internet—we’ve always viewed economic development in our Iowa service areas as a high priority. For example, we’ve purchased commercial and residential properties in Panora and prepared them for resale and new construction, and we’ve worked with the City of Panora on street development projects. Our Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) is another tool in our economic development toolbox. In 2014, Panora Fiber (then Panora Telco) established our RLF as a local funding source that provides low interest loans to encourage new business development in Guthrie County. Funds received from loan repayments are lent out again to help other local entrepreneurs. The goal is to improve the quality of life in our rural communities by contributing to long-term economic improvements. Priorities include job creation and retention, diversification of the local economy, and public infrastructure upgrades to improve the health, safety, and/or medical care of residents. Eligible loan recipients include new or expanding private businesses, not-for-profit entities, and city or county governments. Eligible uses of funds include land purchases, machinery and equipment, fixed assets, and buildings. Ineligible uses of funds include speculation land purchases, payments to owners or equity investors, debt refinancing, and projects that lack economic development potential. Our RLF works hand in hand with financial institutions and is not intended to be a primary source of funding. Instead, it can help “fill in the gaps” for businesses and other organizations, enabling them to finally reach their goals. The Panora Fiber board of directors administers our RLF. Consideration is given to the financial need of the project, the probability of success, and the benefits of the project to the rural area (including number of jobs to be created or retained, diversification of the economy, quality job creation in terms of pay scale and benefit package, and community development projects and improvements to the community infrastructure). If you have questions about Panora Fiber’s RLF or want to discuss your potential eligibility, please visit panorafiber.com/community. If you still have questions, contact Andrew Randol, CEO and General Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. EXAMPLES OF LOW INTEREST LOAN RECIPIENTS Little Panther Daycare & Preschool $100,000 loan Panora Fiber’s RLF was one of several sources of funding to help make the 2021 expansion of the daycare center possible, enabling the facility to accommodate 15 more children and two additional full-time employees. Quality daycare is critical to the economic development of rural communities, and the expansion of the Little Panther Daycare and Preschool in Panora was needed in order to accommodate a long waiting list at the center. OvaEasy $75,000 loan OvaEasy (formerly known as Nutriom) is a small, family-owned company which relocated from the state of Washington to a facility in Panora. It’s been developing new food dehydration technology since 2001 and invented a way of crystallizing egg at low-temperature so that it keeps all its fresh flavor and functionality. With the help of RLF dollars from Panora Fiber and the Guthrie County REC, OvaEasy was able to embark on a nearly $10 million relocation, renovation, production, and warehousing investment. Revolving Loan Fund is a Local Tool
4 WINTER 2023 BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT Andrew Randol, CEO and General Manager of Panora Fiber, said, “For four or five years now, our company had been dealing with the question, ‘Who are we?’ The board of directors finally told me to take it off the back burner and come back with a plan.” Board President Ron Reynolds added, “Yes, we’d been thinking of changing our name for awhile, since times had changed, and we’d become much more of an internet company than a phone company. I’ve been on the board for 40+ years and really didn’t want to change our name that much initially, since I was proud of Panora Telco. However, it clearly needed to get done.” Research and Name Selection After Randol received the board’s directive, he made a call to Shane Petersen, President of Cornerstone Group (the marketing company that’s provided services to Panora Telco and Guthrie Center Communications for years). Randol asked Petersen for help developing one new name for the two companies. “Shane took a simple ask and ran with it. He thoroughly knew our business and industry, asked the right questions, and went to work on the naming project. He did this research as an independent project, since for objectivity, it was important for me to stay out of the process,” Randol said. At the board retreat in June 2022, Petersen reviewed eight case studies on fiber builds in other markets, and in each case, “fiber” was the word that differentiated the company from the competition as it communicates speed and reliability. His research also revealed that a major frustration expressed by customers of national providers was dealing with call centers in foreign countries for support and experiencing slow service times due to only one tech covering several counties. In August 2022, Panora Telco and Guthrie Center Communications both became Panora Fiber. Why did this name change take place? And what was involved in the process? How a big change happened in a small amount of time Rebranding to Panora Fiber
WINTER 2023 5 SOLUTIONS Petersen then presented Cornerstone Group’s name recommendation, Panora Fiber, along with the tagline of “Fast • Reliable • Local.” The board gave it an enthusiastic response. Chris Arganbright, Board Member, recalled, “After Shane’s presentation, I was thrilled and excited to make the change to Panora Fiber! It made perfect sense. We are local, and we provide fiberoptic services.” Reynolds agreed and said, “Shane gave an excellent presentation to the board. At the end, I almost had tears in my eyes. He came up with a great name in Panora Fiber.” A Tight Timeline After the board made the decision to go with Panora Fiber, they discussed the timeline. When would it make sense to launch thenewname?Wouldn’t it begreat to do it at Panorama Days in August? “Panorama Days were just a little over two months away, so a huge amount of work would need to get done quickly to pull off the launch. I asked JaimeWaddle, Administrative & Customer Service Director, if it was possible, and she assured me it was. The rebranding project moved to Jaime’s desk, and she spent many hours working closely with Cornerstone Group on the new Panora Fiber logo, colors, website, vehicle wraps, signage, billing statements, social media, and so forth. I’mproud of Jaime, the Cornerstone Group team, and all the vendors that stepped up to the plate to meet the tight deadlines. The totality of the process to get to the end result of the name change was impressive,” Randol noted. Fiber is the Future How will the Panora Fiber name be beneficial for the company moving forward? Board member Lynnea Anderson replied, “The new name will help us reach out beyond the Panora area and let people know we offer fiber services. Everyone wants fiber once they hear about all of its advantages, including much faster internet!” WHO’S MINDING YOUR BUSINESS? Jaime Waddle Administrative & Customer Service Director Jaime Waddle joined Panora Telco (now Panora Fiber) as a Wireless Specialist in 2002. She later became Customer Service Representative and Administrative Assistant, and was promoted in 2017 to Administrative & Customer Service Director. While Waddle still provides customer support, her administrative responsibilities have expanded considerably in recent years. “I’ve taken on more responsibility for the required industry reporting, including collecting data for all the government-driven reports. I’ve also assumed the project management role for Panora Fiber marketing, with the rebrand being the largest project to date. It was stressful but extremely rewarding. I love working for a company that’s bringing Fiber Internet to customers that need and want it,” said Waddle. She and her husband Brandon Waddle have three daughters— Jaelyn is a senior at Iowa State, Ella is sophomore at Iowa State, and Mia is a junior at Panorama. Notes Waddle, “We enjoy our busy life filled with high school and college events as well as travel.” I’m proud of Jaime, the Cornerstone Group team, and all the vendors that stepped up to the plate to meet the tight deadlines. The totality of the process to get to the end result of the name change was impressive.” —A NDREW RANDOL, CEO AND GENERAL MANAGER, PANORA FIBER
6 WINTER 2023 Covering a total area of almost 200 square miles, Panora Fiber will undertake these buildout projects: • Raccoon River Build #2 in the rural Bagley area • Raccoon River Build #3 in the rural Linden and Redfield areas • Raccoon River Build #4 in the rural Adel area Expanding Internet Options Andrew Randol, CEO and General Manager of Panora Fiber, said, “People in these rural areas now have limited internet service options. Some even try to get by using just their cell phone plans for internet. Panora Fiber will be one of the first fiber providers, and we’ll be able to offer Gig speeds and beyond, which represents a huge advancement in technology.” Panora Fiber received grant funds for these buildouts from the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program’s NOFA (Notice of Funding Availability) #007. This program selects Communications Service Providers for broadband infrastructure projects that will have the greatest overall effect of reducing or eliminating unserved or underserved areas in Iowa through the installation of broadband infrastructure. Qualifying projects must be designed to provide last-mile broadband service that reliably meets or exceeds 100/100 Mbps (or 100/20 Mbps in cases where higher speeds are not practical due to excessive costs, geography, or topography). Between the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program’s NOFA #006 and NOFA #007, a total of 197 broadband projects were awarded grants totaling $307.9 million. Panora Fiber is pleased to be among this group of Communications Service Providers and excited to begin work on our buildouts. Timeline and Process What’s the timeline for these projects? Randol replied, “We’ll start with the Raccoon River Build #2 in the rural Bagley area. It will be going out for bid in early winter 2023. Builds #3 and #4 will follow shortly thereafter. Our build goal for the fiber infrastructure, or ‘the pipe,’ is 2023, with service installations for customers to take place in 2023-2024.” He added, “I often explain the fiber buildout process this way: You have to build the interstate first, then build the highways. The fiber infrastructure is like the interstate, and the last-mile connections to homes and businesses are like the highways. Of course, these timelines are subject to change, since we’re at the mercy of supply chains and contractor workforces.” If you’re wondering if Panora Fiber’s buildouts will include a specific location, contact Andrew Randol, CEO and General Manager, at email@example.com. Fiber is a gamechanger, particularly in rural areas that are currently underserved and lack access to sufficient internet speeds. Panora Fiber is ready to address this vital need by expanding our fiber network in select areas of Guthrie and Dallas counties. Panora Fiber to Expand Broadband Reach Raccoon River fiber buildouts will begin in 2023
WINTER 2023 7 SOLUTIONS Did you know some buildings are now rated based on their WiredScore? That’s the digital connectivity rating system for real estate used by leading landlords in 12 countries, and the WiredScore score can impact the value of the property. In fact, fiber connectivity has been found to increase the value of physical real estate by a few percentage points. Connectivity to be Competitive The importance of fiber connectivity has increased substantially as high-speed internet went from being a “nice to have” item to being “I can’t live without it” essential for prospective residents and commercial tenants. In 2022 and beyond, most commercial property will need to offer fiber connectivity to be competitive in the marketplace. After all, people are working with many times more data on more devices than they did several years ago, so bandwidth is a major concern. Tenants now expect fast and reliable broadband as much as they expect adequate power, heating, air conditioning, and parking. For commercial properties, the availability of fiber connectivity can even make or break a rental agreement. This isn’t surprising, since fiber connectivity enables employees and work-from-home residents to confidently perform critical work and stay connected. Businesses can operate much more efficiently in buildings with access to next-generation Gig internet—with its symmetrical download and upload speeds and 99.9% reliability. Benefits Beyond the Tenants It’s not only the tenants in a commercial property who benefit from fiber connectivity. Developers and commercial property owners benefit as well. In addition to the positive impact on tenant demand and valuation, fiber connectivity can help them improve building security since fiber cables are far less vulnerable to cyberattacks. Fiber also enables the expanded use of smart thermostats and lighting as well as other IoT technologies to increase building efficiency and reduce costs. What’s more, the community at large reaps rewards when commercial properties within it offer fiber connectivity. It aids in economic growth by helping to attract new businesses and residents and support the growth of existing businesses. Panora Fiber offers Fiber Internet for businesses of any size, including enterprise plans with speeds up to a gigabit. To learn more, visit www.panorafiber.com. Conventional wisdom says the three most important factors in real estate are “location, location, location.” While location still matters in choosing a commercial property, fiber connectivity may soon make its way onto that famous list due to its impact on tenant demand and valuation. Extra Special Ways to Thank Your Customers Fiber Connectivity Increases Commercial Property Values Tenants want access to fast and reliable broadband
Wherever you are on the road to reaching your business goals, Panora Fiber is there beside you. Our business services let you focus on what matters—using communications technology to provide your customers with the greatest experience possible. Call us at 641.755.2424 in Panora or 641.332.2000 in Guthrie Center. Cornerstone Group © 2022 TECHNOLOGY YOU NEED. PEOPLE YOU TRUST. THAT’S PANORA FIBER.