Q&A with Matthew Summy, Comcast
1. We see Comcast a lot in the community – doing business and doing community service. Can you tell us about your civic engagement priorities?
Comcast is an exciting and dynamic company that never sits still. It’s international, but because we do so much business here in the Chicago area, in some ways it feels like a local company. Businesses here depend on technology, and we provide them with state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure, so we play a significant role in the economy and in the success of small, medium and large companies across the region.
In my role, I get to lead Comcast’s civic engagement. We believe our role is greater than just our business objectives. That’s why we value organizations like the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, and are honored to participate in them and in initiatives to advance our economy and improve the lives of people here.
Nurturing and partnering with the tech industry has been a huge personal project for me. Early on, Comcast provided support to 1871 and other tech incubators to help them and the startups they serve get to the next level. I’m thrilled to see how the industry has grown and believe the work we’ve done has played a role in its success.
Growing out or our civic engagement focus, our community investment priorities are increasing access to the Internet, enhancing digital literacy and youth development.
2. To that end, Comcast has been very active in trying to close the digital divide. Can you tell us about your Internet Essentials program?
The digital divide is one of the biggest civil rights issues in the country today. I am a true believer in our Internet Essentials program and am so proud that more than 170,000 Chicagoans have benefitted from it. Through Internet Essentials, eligible low-income families can get broadband Internet service at home for about $10 a month. We just made the program available to 91,000 Chicago Housing Authority residences, and last year, we opened it to community college students in the state who receive federal Pell Grants. We recently joined with the Chamber to talk to business and community leaders and the media about how the digital divide affects access to middle-skills jobs – ranging from nursing to police work – and the role Internet Essentials can play in helping people to apply, qualify for and keep them. I hope people reading this will tell someone about Internet Essentials and how it can help improve the lives of Chicago area children and families. For more information, visit www.internetessentials.com
3. Most people don’t realize just how much a part of the Chicago area fabric Comcast is. Can you tell us about the company’s presence here?
That’s a great question. We are very much a part of the communities we serve. In fact, we do business in more than 500 communities throughout our Greater Chicago Region, which is centered in Chicago and includes locations where we provide service in Illinois, Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan. We have close to 7,000 employees in the region and nearly 50 locations in the Chicago area alone. We have nearly 50,000 miles of network and more than 1.3 million WiFi hotspots in the region. And most people don’t realize that we have more than 900 Customer Care reps answering phones in call centers right here in the Chicago area. NBC5 and Telemundo, which are part of the Comcast family, are fixtures in the city, produce more than 40 hours of local news each week, as well as the “Steve Harvey Show” and “Judge Mathis” at the NBC Tower downtown.
The first ever Studio Xfinity – a unique retail environment where customers can test our products and services and get help – is located near North and Clybourn in Chicago. We host all sorts of community events there, too. In total, we have 10 retail stores in the Chicagoland area and have plans to build more. In fact, we just announced that we’re building a store in the city at Ashland near Belmont and Lincoln.
What I appreciate the most about my job is that I get to interact with so many diverse and talented people inside and outside the company each and every day. My work at Comcast has been incredibly satisfying to me, and I’m proud that the company wants to – and does — play such an incredible role in the communities we serve.