President Obama to speak in Cedar Falls Wednesday - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

President Obama to speak in Cedar Falls Wednesday

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  • Obama in Iowa

    Obama in Iowa

    Full coverage of President Obama's visit to Cedar Falls and his speech -- and reactions -- on faster broadband Internet access.
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    Full coverage of President Obama's visit to Cedar Falls and his speech -- and reactions -- on faster broadband Internet access.
    More >>

President Barack Obama will be returning to Iowa this week.

According to a White House official, he will fly into the state on Wednesday.

“The President will travel to Iowa where he will lay out new steps to increase access to affordable, high-speed broadband across the country,” said a White House official.

Sources tell KWWL that he will speak at Cedar Falls Utilities, and could stress cyber security in the run-up to his State of the Union address on Jan. 20. An advance team is reportedly already in the area.

“Further details on the President's travel to Iowa will be available in the coming days,” a White House official said.

“I think it's great, it's very exciting to have the President coming back to Cedar Falls,” said KWWL Political Analyst Chris Larimer.

Obama hasn't been back to the Cedar Valley since 2012. Larimer said he likely avoided Iowa during the mid-term elections, because his low approval rating could have dragged another Democrat down, like U.S. Senate hopeful Bruce Braley.

For some, the announcement that Obama will discuss high-speed internet just makes sense. Cedar Falls has some of the fast connections in Iowa, through CFU's ground-breaking gigabit plans. The company launched the faster internet service in 2013. Sources told KWWL back then that the high-speed access would help attract tech start-ups and other businesses to the area.

Steve Crozier owns SmartTech in Cedar Falls.

“There are several communities that have fiber, but only one that has gigabit fiber to the house, and that's Cedar Falls,” he said.

The gigabit distinction goes beyond casual browsing – it's a huge sell for high-tech companies.

“It's less expensive in the long run,” Crozier said. “You've heard the concept that time is money, well, if it takes me all day to upload a file, that's a lot of money. But, if it takes me half an hour, that's money in the bank.”

Gov. Terry Branstad pursued broadband access legislation last year, and continues to do so. His plan is called "Connect Every Acre.”

His office issued a statement on the President's visit.

“We appreciate that President Obama recognizes Governor Branstad's work to make Iowa a leader in connecting its citizens, main street businesses, schools and agriculture to high-speed broadband internet," wrote his communications director, Jimmy Centers. "In this legislative session, the governor will continue to aggressively pursue legislation that positions Iowa for the future by connecting every acre of the state through high-speed broadband internet.”

Branstad also plans to address the issue in his so-called “State of the State” address on Tuesday. Centers said it's unclear at this point if the Governor will meet with the President.

Branstad's statement falls in line with Larimer's predictions – that better internet access is an easy issue for the President to gain bipartisan cooperation – a political softball, if you will.

“This is probably one of those things that's difficult to block,” Larimer said. “You might see more Republican support.”

Obama was in Tennessee Friday, where he outlined his plan to provide free community college to more Americans. He has also toured Detroit and Phoenix.

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