Veteran entrepreneur is bringing high speed internet to rural Alabama
“Internet isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity for school work just about anything, especially in a rural area like Sylacauga and Talladega Springs,” says Livingston Logistic owner Bruce Livingston. “Out of 50 states, Alabama is 46th in internet service. But we’re hoping to change that.” With his internet company, Livingston is looking to reduce the digital divide in Appalachian Alabama by providing stable, high-speed wireless internet to residents of Talladega, Coosa, and Shelby counties in Alabama, counties that currently have limited or no internet access.
A service-disabled Veteran and native of Talladega Springs, Livingston says he was raised to own his own business by two entrepreneurs. Bruce retired from the Army and returned to Talladega Springs to start a freight business, but had trouble finding the reliable internet they needed to succeed. Around the same time, his mother unexpectedly passed away, leaving him to also manage the storage facility she owned. “Companies kept coming to me to put internet access points at my properties, and I’ve always been good at solving problems,” says Livingston. “I started working with some sales guys to bring internet access points all over a few counties, and the rest is history.”
Livingston used that experience managing a local wireless internet service provider – contracting, customer service, staffing and purchasing, and of course internet expertise – to launch Livingston Logistic. The first thing his company would need, however, would be the tower to relay the internet signal.
“A major obstacle for any small business is finding capital,” says Livingston. With construction and weather delays, erecting their 160-foot tower took 9 months instead of the expected 3 months. “Even though I had a few thousands in assets, I couldn’t get a bank loan,” says Livingston. “Most folks don’t understand wireless internet and its potential. It’s not prevalent here yet, which is great for my business potential, but not so great for securing finance.
Livingston had been working with the Jacksonville State University SBDC when his counselor put him in touch with Pathway Lending for capital he needed to get Livingston Logistic up and running.
“The help Pathway’s given me has been a phenomenal asset, and the entire team has been so supportive,” says Livingston. “I would tell anyone to work with Pathway Lending, whether they’re a startup or a seasoned company. They really want my business to success and the way they’ve shared their expertise with me has been invaluable. Pathway Lending believes in me and my business.”
With the tower built, Livingston has big plans for bringing high speed internet to his community. “Like Tom Petty said ‘waiting is the hardest part,’” says Livingston. “We’re excited to be up and running and getting more customers online for work, school, commerce, public safety – just everything our community needs to thrive.”
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