Community development

Broadband: Rural communities have to have it

The EPA and ICMA (International City/County Management Association) have issued a very useful and readable report on "smart growth" in rural communities. However, the word "broadband" does not appear once in the entire report, and there no mention at all of the need for access to affordable high performance broadband services. I used to say that broadband infrastructure is the current day equivalent of water and sewer with respect to economic development, but I have switched to "paved roads." Why?

Wired West chooses governance structure

WiredWest is a municipal broadband project that includes 47 towns working together to build and operate a last-mile, fiber-to-the-premises network for Western Massachusetts communities unserved and underserved by high-speed broadband. The WiredWest project covers 1,445 square miles; more than 27,000 households; 3,000 businesses; and dozens of community institutions.

Community news and projects:

Libraries: The Center for Sustainable Adoption

Libraries have a bright future, particularly in small and medium–sized communities. As the Knowledge Economy continues to change the way business is conducted, both locally and globally, libraries can play an essential economic development role as well as enhance community and civic life. Indeed, by changing and adapting their role and mission slightly, libraries could enter a “Golden Age,” where the venerable institution plays a more central role in the community, with a commensurate increase in funding.

Intelligent Community Smart 7 awards announced

The Intelligent Community Forum announced their Smart Seven communities for 2010 yesterday.

One of Design Nine's projects, nDanville, was one of the ICF's Smart 21 communities this year, and got a mention for its success in attracting new jobs by building community fiber.

Community news and projects:

Ontario: Turning miles into milliseconds

The provincial government of Ontario is spending millions to help rural communities get high speed broadband. They have a nice slogan: "Turning miles into milliseconds." And that is really what it is about; rural communities have traditionally been isolated because of distance--many miles to major population centers and jobs. Broadband is the 21st century equivalent of the interstate highway, getting people closer to jobs, businesses, and economic development opportunities.

Community news and projects:

Suburbs down, Main Street up

This article provides more data on the fast-shifting but likely permanent change in how we decide where we want to live. We are probably seeing the biggest shift in housing since the end of World War II and the rise of the suburb.

Community broadband, the rural economy, and commuting

The sharp increases in gas and diesel fuel are raising the cost of commuting. Even if fuel prices recede (as they did after the '73 oil crunch), it seems likely that we will never see $2 gas again, and it may be that $3 gas becomes the new normal.

While the cost of fuel affects everyone to some extent, rural communities may be at most risk. Many workers in rural towns drive long distances to work, and a doubling of the cost of such drives may make it too expensive to make those commutes for a $12 or $14 per hour job.

Find your spot

Find Your Spot is an online relocation service that helps business owners and prospective employees find a place to live that matches personal preferences like the weather, arts & culture, recreation, education, the cost of living, health care, and the local economy.

Here is a key quote from the FAQ portion of the site:

Best small places to live and to work

In a just released Forbes survey, Blacksburg, Virginia is ranked tenth in the nation as one of the best small places to live and to work. If you live in a small community, it is worth spending some time reviewing the Forbes study. Of the nine factors they use to rank communities, four of the nine are related directly to quality of life. These factors are Culture and Leisure, Crime Rate, Educational Attainment, and Cost of Living.

Community news and projects:

Getting ready to grow

With traffic choking the major metropolitan areas of the country, I think that some smaller cities like Roanoke, Virginia and Scranton, Pennsylvania are poised for growth, if they can adequately address a range of quality of life issues. These smaller cities may have a rush hour, but it usually measured in minutes, not hours, and because they are located outside major urban corridors, it is possible to have a nice house in the woods a few miles from town and still drive to work in fifteen or twenty minutes.

Technology News:

Community news and projects:

Rural Telecon: Broadband and local leaders

Ken Pigg, from the University of Missouri, has been studying community use of technology for more than a decade, and is among a handful of truly informed experts about community technology issues. At his RTC session, he talked about communities and the challenges they are facing as they try to grapple with the issue of broadband.

Technology News:

Rural Telecon '06 in October

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has confirmed the participation of Dr. Carol Cain in this year’s Rural Telecommunications Congress Conference, October 22-25, 2006, at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock, AR. For those who might be unfamiliar with AHRQ they are the lead agency managing the Federal inventory of projects for the Department of Health and Human Services related to the transformation of the national healthcare system.

Technology News:

Open service provider networks

As Design Nine works with more and more communities on broadband development, I have become convinced that the only financial model that is going to work over the long term is the Open Service Provider Network (OSPN). What this means is that the network is designed, constructed, and managed specifically to allow and support a marketplace of service providers that compete for subscribers.

Better living in small towns

This article was sent to me by a county administrator who has long recognized the potential of small towns, good quality of life, and broadband. Forbes has selected 150 small towns and small cities and divided them into six categories, based on amenities and quality of life. It will be no surprise to many of you that the one thing Forbes has identified as a key enabler of economic growth is not water, sewer, or industrial parks.

It is affordable broadband.

Roanoke tries to attract youth

Roanoke is a city near Blacksburg, and the city's demographics are skewed, like many rural towns and cities, toward older people. The City recently decided to stop wringing its hands about the paucity of young people and actually do something. First they hired someone whose primary job responsibility is to solve the problem, and then gave him free rein.

Community news and projects:

The iPod generation

If your job involves working with youth, or if it should (economic developers take note), you may want to read this article about the kind of people that visit Apple's iTunes Music Store. You might call people that fit the profile the "iPod Generation."

Dealing with the future in New England

This article on the problems of smaller New England towns and communities could apply easily to most rural communities in America--youth leaving, lack jobs, decaying downtowns, and sprawl.

Technology News:

Economic Development blogging

This new blog is a great example of the potential of local blogging to enhance economic development and to educate/inform local leaders and citizens. This new Blacksburg area blog has a nice mix of job opportunities, economic development news, and leadership issues. It is just what is needed in many local areas.

Rural Telecon: Breakfast Keynote (Tuesday)

Hilda Gay Legg gave the morning keynote address at the RTC conference today. Until very recently, Legg was the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. She has had extensive experience working with rural communities and as a sociologist, really understands rural America. She had a lot of interesting comments:

Technology News:

Cool cities in Michigan

Michigan gets a hat tip for its Cool Cities program. They apparently not only read Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class, but also decided not to just keep doing the same old thing and expecting different results (a typical economic development response).

The Cool City principles are worth reading. Written like a vision statement, they identify key ideas and concepts that the effort intends to pursue.

Community news and projects:


Subscribe to RSS - Community development