City Council Considers Cambridge-Wide Job Fair and Municipal Broadband

The Cambridge City Council considered and passed two policy orders designed to benefit the city’s least advantaged residents at their meeting Monday night. One proposed a Cambridge-wide job fair and another explored the possibility of introducing free internet access across the city.

The first resolution, proposed by Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, aims to launch a job fair exclusively for Cambridge residents.  According to Benzan, the fair would serve to connect the top 25 regional employers, start-ups, and other companies to the local talent of Cambridge.

Benzan hopes that such a job fair would reduce unemployment as well as bolster economic growth for Cambridge. “We have the capacity to reduce our unemployment rate from 4.3 percent to almost 0,” he said.

Several Cambridge residents showed their support for the resolution. During the portion of the meeting for public comments, they noted that it is difficult to find jobs despite the seemingly strong economic prospects of the major companies that call Cambridge home.

The council members concurred that a job fair could help promote the employment of Cambridge youth and, in particular, encourage them to stay in the area after attending high school or college.

The council also considered a resolution to create a task force to investigate the possibility of offering free municipal broadband to Cambridge residents. The resolution, which was proposed by Councilors Nadeem A. Mazen, Leland Cheung, and Dennis J. Carlone argued that Cambridge is dominated by a single broadband provider, Comcast, and thus lacks the competition that would normally lead to affordable pricing.

If the task force decides in favor of municipal broadband, Cambridge residents who would otherwise be unable to afford internet access would be able to enjoy free or subsidized broadband service.

Residents also came out in support of this resolution, with one calling the lack of affordable internet access a “human rights violation.” They said that in the digital age, having access to the internet is crucial for civic engagement, education, and employment opportunities.

The resolution noted that over 400 communities across the United States have already implemented and managed their own municipal broadband networks, often operating them in competition with private firms.

—Staff writer Arjun S. Byju can be reached at arjun.byju@thecrimson.com.

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