New Albany's Blue Albany high-speed, fiber-optics network has led to the village's recent recognition in TechColumbus' Innovation Awards.

New Albany's Blue Albany high-speed, fiber-optics network has led to the village's recent recognition in TechColumbus' Innovation Awards.

The village is a semifinalist in the "innovation in nonprofit service delivery" category.

Scott McAfee, village spokesman, said he thinks New Albany received the designation because it is one of the only public entities at the forefront of providing high-speed Internet to its residents and businesses.

"I think in many ways we are at the cutting edge of taking advantage of technology not only to make our community more attractive to business recruitment but also to provide for a better quality of life for all the residents who live near New Albany," he said.

McAfee said the network has been a strong selling point for many businesses of all sizes looking to move to the village's business campus because some of the fiber is already ready to use.

He said PharmaForce, Motorists Insurance Group and the Nationwide Insurance data center all plan to use the Blue Albany network when they open their doors. The Mount Carmel New Albany Surgical Hospital also plans to use the network.

Travel Solutions Inc. has plans in the works to use the system, which allows companies to choose among 150 different Internet service providers and link into both Ohio and national networks.

Travel Solutions Inc. was recognized as a semifinalist in the "outstanding product" category for companies that have more than 50 employees.

McAfee said the Blue Albany network, which is made up of 96 strands and was created through a partnership with American Electric Power, also is used by the New Albany-Plain Local School District and has allowed teachers and administrators to expand their offsite course offerings.

Tim Haynes, vice president of member services and marketing for TechColumbus, a local company that provides resources to people and businesses in the technology field, said New Albany's Blue Albany network is a good example of the innovation which TechColumbus seeks.

Gahanna and Dublin were recognized as semifinalists in the same category as New Albany.

"I think it shows that cities like New Albany, that make a concerted effort to focus on economic development to focus on technology-based businesses, realize there are certain things they need to do to create an environment and a culture that is appropriate for the business community," Haynes said. "It's exciting what's going on there."

Haynes said the company has been issuing 13 categories of Innovation Awards since 1996, after the technology environment in Columbus started to grow.

"The organization ... recognized that this community has a lot of technology assets and innovative people and organizations," Haynes said. "The Innovation Awards were started to recognize the tremendous achievement of the people and the companies and the research institutions that are doing wonderful things in central Ohio."

The Innovation Awards winners will be announced during an event hosted by WBNS-10TV's Andrea Cambern on Thursday, Feb. 4, at the Columbus Convention Center.

"We want people to walk away and really say, 'Wow. I didn't realize so many wonderful and innovation things are going on in the Columbus area,'" Haynes said.

McAfee said he thinks the award exemplifies the work New Albany officials already realize has paid off.

"I think what the award will do is be an example of how our planning has really helped the quality of life in this community," he said. "I think it would be an honor to win this award, especially when there are so many other worthy projects that we are with as semifinalists."