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Free public wifi coming to Washington waterfront

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WASHINGTON, Beaufort County - Businesses along the Washington waterfront hope the city's latest project will turn downtown into a hot spot.

The owners of South Market Antiques and Little Shoppes say they've seen more customers since moving closer to the Washington waterfront last week.

"And we're just like a little social hub here, lots of folks in and out," said Pat Lewis, co-owner of the business.

Now, they're even more excited to hear the city is installing public wifi. Many hope it will further increase visitors to the downtown area. Washington Tourism Director Lynn Davis said it's their way of keeping up with nearby cities like Greenville and Raleigh, where this is already fairly common.

"It's kind of like when you go to a hotel, you asume there's going to be a hair dryer and an iron," Davis said. "Well, that's become the way it is with wifi. When you come to a community, if you're visiting, you imemdiately look around for the hotspot."

The city is using $20,000 of its budget to set up the hotspots. The Tourism Development Authority, Washington Harbor District Alliance and the Washington-Beaufort Chamber of Commerce are splitting the yearly bill to keep the wifi running.

The wifi project is still in a trial phase but city leaders say the full installment will be done within the next 90 days. You can access the wifi from the lighthouse on the waterfront to the estaurium on East Water Street.

"Whether this means people will say 'oh we're going to Washington because they have wifi,' I'm not really sure that's going to happen but it's certainly an asset, and something that perhaps people are gonna spend more time on our waterfront and our downtown area," Davis said.

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