Girard a finalist for T-Mobile ‘Techover’ contest

Jonathan Riley
Morning Sun

GIRARD, Kan. — Telecommunications giant T-Mobile announced Thursday that Girard is one of 10 finalists out of thousands of small towns nationwide that were nominated for the company’s $3 million “Hometown Techover” contest. 

“We’re really excited to be recognized, especially since we’re such a small, rural community, for such a big award,” City Administrator Johanna Winter said.  

If selected as the winner, Girard “will receive a ‘tech makeover’ from T-Mobile including 5G network enhancements, a $200,000 grant, a free concert featuring multi-platinum duo Florida Georgia Line, a refurbished Little League field and other tech goods and services,” the company said in a press release. “The chosen town will become the 5G model for communities across the U.S., showcasing the power of the country’s largest, fastest and most reliable 5G network.” 

The Hometown Techover contest launched in April, but Girard was not entered until June, according to Jessica Ripper, executive director of the Girard Area Chamber Commerce. Ripper said Girard was nominated for the contest by a woman who works for T-Mobile in Lee's Summit, Missouri, and whose daughter lives in Girard. 

If Girard wins the contest, it will likely spend the $200,000 on improvements to the courthouse square downtown, including placement of historical markers, updates to banners, and an upgraded sound system. 

“There are speakers around the square, but those have just kind of diminished over time,” Ripper said. 

“The heart of Girard is the square. That’s where we have our parades, that’s where we have our Easter get-togethers, that’s where we do Fall Festival, and to be able to have sound for the entire square would be kind of our dream, and the main use for the Techover $200,000 cash.”  

Besides Girard, other finalists include the Borough of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania; Dunn, North Carolina; Guadalupe, California; Hopkinsville, Kentucky; Kalispell, Montana; Tipton, Indiana; Wareham, Massachusetts; Washington, Missouri; and Woodstock, Illinois. 

“T-Mobile and Smart Growth America will determine a winner based on project feasibility, their need for a network upgrade and town leadership’s interest and engagement,” T-Mobile said in its release. “Later this summer, one of the 10 finalist towns will be crowned the T-Mobile Hometown Techover winner, but in typical T-Mobile style, the nine other finalists will not go home empty-handed. They will each get $50,000 to help jump-start or complete a project in their community too.” 

Both Ripper and Winters said, however, that it was their understanding that the $50,000 was a separate grant the city had to apply for, and was not yet a sure thing. If the city does get end up getting at least the $50,000 from T-Mobile, that money, like the larger $200,000 amount, would also likely be used for improvements to the square. 

T-Mobile representatives were in Girard on Thursday, Ripper said, providing free drinks and pastries at C4 Coffeehouse & Country Store for the first 500 customers to come in. 

“That’s something great for our community in itself: getting people together, letting them talk about the potential of a concert, and get excited about something,” Ripper said. 

“We’re just honored to be included in this. Any publicity that we can bring to our little town here is good publicity. To be able to have some extra people coming through town to get those free pastries and free drinks today, that’s going to be a major impact on all of our local businesses today, get people out and about, get people shopping.”