New Accelerator and Wi-Fi Network Promises to Jumpstart Newark, NJ with Innovative Startups
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

New Jersey Senator Cory A. Booker and Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, along with other New Jersey politicians and business leaders, recently launched a $50 Million technology venture fund that will bring a state-of-the-art, ultra-high bandwidth 25,000 square-foot accelerator to Newark, NJ. It will offer 10 gigabit-per-second service for innovative tech start-ups.

In addition, the garden state dignitaries unveiled Firebolt Newark Wi-Fi, the world’s fastest, large-scale, contiguous public outdoor Wi-Fi network, capable of over 400 megabits per second download speeds.

[RELATED: White House ConnectHome Pilot Program Expands High-Speed Broadband to Low-Income Families]

“The fund and the Wi-Fi network are major steps toward establishing Newark as a technology hub for the region,” said Baraka.  “We are making the right tech investments in our workforce and our neighborhoods.  This is about creating more opportunities to grow the economy, for Newark 3.0 to thrive.”

The location also houses the headquarters of Audible–an Amazon subsidiary that sells digital audio books and audio versions of newspapers and magazines–and its Newark-based employees as well as the Rutgers University Business School, which is providing rent-free access to the facility, which is now being readied for construction.

Audible’s executives and advanced technologists will play a key role in providing mentoring to resident portfolio companies. “Audible moved to Newark in late 2007 to help accelerate the comeback of a great American city,” said Audible CEO Donald Katz, also the founder of Newark Venture Partners. “As the fastest-growing private employer in Newark, we have added hundreds of employees who are thriving in a city at a historic tipping point.  Along with the Newark Venture Partners leadership team, we look forward to mentoring fellow entrepreneurs and their employees.”

The first fund of its kind in the New York metropolitan area, Newark Venture Partners is part of a national “social impact investing” trend characterized by a “double bottom line” investment thesis that will include regularly published metrics on the fund’s contribution to social and economic improvement such as job growth, taxable revenue growth, increased residential in-migration, foot traffic, and the growth of vibrant street level amenities.

Firebolt Newark Wi-Fi, is built by the Military Park Partnership, and funded by Audible, Prudential Financial, Rutgers Newark, and NJIT. The Firebolt Wi-Fi system covers a two-linear-mile stretch of downtown Newark.

The network, which has already been used by more than 50,000 people prior to announcement, is capable of delivering hundreds of megabits per second download speeds to client devices. The successful network was made possible by cutting-edge custom hardware from Ackrion Inc., a Springfield, Massachusetts, based startup.  In addition, the same cutting-edge solution is also available at several community recreation centers and housing authority locations in the city’s neighborhoods.

“Our additional support of Firebolt, promises to be a boon for the community of Newark by expanding Internet access, stimulating innovation, and giving businesses a competitive edge,” said Prudential Financial Vice Chairman, Mark Grier. “We are particularly pleased that our support extends the Wi-Fi beyond the downtown core to recreation centers around the city to further benefit Newark residents.”

Join the Conversation

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.


MORE ON BlackEnterprise.com