Economic development

Amazon and remote work driving Millenials to the Rust Belt

This is one of the most interesting articles I have read in a long time.

Millenials are moving to smaller "Rust Belt" towns and small cities to escape the high cost of living in the larger metro areas. Heavy student debt loads, combined with skyrocketing rents and home costs, are part of the appeal to live in a place where housing is affordable.

Work from home continues to increase

This article on why Millenial workers quit their jobs has an interesting nugget of information half way down the page.

The ability to work remotely was also an important factor for 63 percent of Millennials surveyed, who said they might not be interested in future jobs if working remotely wasn’t an option.

Technology News:

Here's why bricks and mortar retail is shrinking

I needed a halogen bulb for an under-cabinet light in the kitchen. I spent more than an hour traveling to three different stores, including two big box home improvement stores, and never did find the bulb. I did notice that similar bulbs were selling for about eight dollars.

Once I got home, I looked on Amazon. I found the bulb I needed, in a four pack for twelve dollars, or about $3/bulb instead of eight. I have an Amazon Prime subscription, so the bulbs will be delivered to my front door in two days.

Work from home continues to increase

In our work, we are seeing steadily rising numbers of people trying to work from home part or full time. In both the public and private sector, many businesses and agencies now routinely allow employees to work from home one or two days per week, which can have a huge impact on transportation spending. If most commuters stayed home to work just one day a week, you are looking at taking 15% or more of cars off the road, reducing road wear/maintenance, reducing traffic congestion, and shortening commutes.

Railroads and fiber: Part II: The Incumbents

As I continue to read "A Great and Shining Road" about the building of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s, I continue to be amazed at the number of parallels between that project and the effort to get fiber to homes and businesses today.

While the scale of the two projects is different (the railroad was going to span the continent, while fiber needs to be built within towns and cities), the *resistance* to the project is the same.

Railroads and fiber: Repeating history

I've been reading "A Great and Shining Road," by John Williams. It tells the story of the development of the transcontinental railroad, and has much detail in the beginning about the development of rail transportation in the U.S., as it started on the east coast.

Technology News:

No broadband = No tourist dollars

The "slow or non-existent" broadband service in and around Loch Ness in Scotland is driving tourists away, who flee in horror, not from Nessie, the once and future Loch Ness Monster, but from un-usable broadband.

Broadband is basic infrastructure for community and economic development.

Community news and projects:

Technology News:

How much "broadband" does a business need?

The Blandin Foundation has a must-read letter from a relatively small business that illustrates very clearly the problem that "not enough broadband" has on economic development.

The whole letter lays out numerous problems, but this is one of the most striking:


"I find many candidates that are excited to raise a family in a rural community, but they do not want to live in the digital equivalence of the 1980’s."

Community news and projects:

Work from home: Neighborhoods are business districts, and fiber is the new road

Dave Sobotta, our VP of Marketing, writes here about his experiences over the past thirty years. Much of that time, he has been working from home, making him one of the work from home pioneers.

2015 Intelligent Community Forum Smart7 Candidates Announced

The Intelligent Community Forum announced the Top7 Intelligent Communities for 2015 today.

The Top7 list is dominated by the United States with three communities: Arlington County, Virginia; Columbus,Ohio; and Mitchell, South Dakota.

The others come from four nations: Ipswich, Australia; New Taipei City, Taiwan; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Surrey, Canada. Four of the cites are on the Top7 list for the first time: Mitchell, New Taipei City, Rio de Janeiro and Surrey.

Community news and projects:

Intelligent Community Forum announces 2015 Smart21 candidates

The Intelligent Community Forum has announced the twenty-one community candidates for 2015. This year's submissions come from diverse locations ranging from Kazakhstan to Kenya and Taiwan to the United States. The Smart21 represent a cross section of the world with five communities from the United States, four from Australia and four from Taiwan as well as three Canadian cities. Plus one each from Kazakhstan, Brazil, Japan, Kenya and New Zealand.

Community news and projects:

Brain Gain: Worth a read

I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of Brain Gain: How Innovative cities create job growth in an age of disruption. The book does something which is too often overlooked: Making the case that broadband investments have to be thoughtfully linked to broader community and economic development goals. The book is written by the founders of the Intelligent Community Forum, Robert Bell, Louis Zacharilla, and John Jung.

Community news and projects:

Why fiber? One business experience tells the whole story....

If you are an elected official or an economic developer, everything you wanted to know about why high performance, affordable fiber networks are important is contained in this one story:

Community news and projects:

Fiber and Economic Development: Yes, there are positive impacts

WideOpen Networks has a nice piece out about the impact of fiber on community economic development.

How fiber supercharges economic development: Lafayette, Louisiana's success story

Broadband Communities magazine has a story that should be required reading for every community wondering if there is linkage between Gigabit fiber and economic development. Lafayette's municipal Gigabit fiber network has brought Hollywood special effects jobs to the community, more than a hundred, because the high performance Gigabit network lets Pixel Magic move the computer files back and forth between Lafayette and California quickly.

Community news and projects:

Technology News:

Fiber makes neighborhoods business districts

I've been talking about this for fifteen years. New data, from an article at Forbes, suggests that demand for office space may have peaked in the U.S, and that what may be the trend in the future is work from home and business from home activities. According to the article, the number of people working from home as self-employed has risen 14% in the past decade.

Neighborhoods are business districts, and need to be treated as such by economic developers.

Who needs a Gig at home? Half of U.S. businesses

This is 2007 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported that half of U.S. businesses are located in the home. Half, as in 50%. Which validates what I began saying ten years ago: Neighborhoods are business districts.

Communities that ignore this data and continue to hope that marginal DSL, asymmetric cable, and too-expensive cellular data services are "good enough" are closing off their own economic future.

Technology News:

Real estate market impacted by poor Internet access

Via Eldo Telecom, news that in England, people are moving from the country to larger towns because of bad Internet access. As Fred Pilot of Eldo points out (correctly, I believe), rural communities in the U.S. are also at risk. It's hard to imagine how anybody can manage with a dial up connection at home, which of course leads to people parking in the McDonald's parking lot so they can retrieve their email or so their kids can do their homework.

Community news and projects:

Technology News:

The myth of the twenty-something entrepreneur

This article in readwrite confirms something I have suspected for a long time: that most successful entrepreneurs are not twenty-three and worth a billion dollars. In fact, according to the article, "...twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over 50 as under 25. A whopping 75% have more than six years of industry experience and 50% have more than 10 years when they create their startup."

Uh oh...attracting entrepreneurs just got real

If you think you are going to attract those young, business-hungry entrepreneurs types with some mediocre broadband, a couple of bike paths, and a Starbucks, think again. A start up company called Happy Hubs has just ratcheted the whole entrepreneurial attraction game up several notches. Happy Hubs is renting out luxury workspaces in Costa Rica, and is offering five star amenities like massage therapy, gourmet food service, maid service, and access to a beach.

Community news and projects:

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