The Ennovation Center, the business incubator in Independence, has another selling point – high-speed fiber connections that technology-based startups need to thrive and grow.

“I think that’s really a way for small businesses to compete effectively …” said John Sondag, president of Missouri AT&T.

The Independence Economic Development Council runs the Ennovation Center. AT&T and the EDC on Friday announced that the center, 201 N. Forest Ave., has been certified as Fiber Ready. It’s the first such site in Jackson County.

High-speed – and secure – internet service is critical for such functions as cloud computing and video uploading and downloading, officials say.

“It’s absolutely a selling point,” said Lee Langerock, the Ennovation Center’s executive director. She said the center had 28 tenants in 2014, 50 last year and 70 now – with hopes of adding 30 to 50 more – and she said some have come because of the high-speed service.

“And having the pipeline to be able to do that is absolutely critical,” she said.

EDC President Tom Lesnak and Independence Mayor Eileen both alluded to the city’s pioneer-and-trading trails history. Lesnak said the city has always been a good place for businesses to start.

“So instead of Conestoga wagons, we have connectivity,” he said.

The mayor echoed that idea.

“We love creating businesses in our city,” she said. “We love growing businesses in our city.”