Posted by: Ann Treacy | August 16, 2011

Federal broadband highlights bring Obama to Cannon Falls

Today President Obama was in Minnesota today. The hot topic of the day was definitely jobs but I was delighted to hear Gary Evans, President of Hiawatha Broadband, ask a question related to broadband. Thanks to the Chicago Sun Times for posting the transcript

Q Mr. President, I’m Gary Evans (ph) from Winona, Minnesota. I run a broadband company there, and I’ve got a couple of messages that I hope you’ll take back to your colleagues in D.C. The first is, two years ago we had 60 employees; tomorrow we will cross 100. (Applause.) We are making the investments in this country, so my first message is: Help the job creators; do what it takes. Secondly, it was already apparent as the debt debate went on that the mood in America had shifted again to skepticism, so I’m hoping that you and your colleagues will do everything possible to make certain that confidence is restored to the country and that we have a bright future. I think broadband is a key, and I appreciate what you did for it during the stimulus act. Thank you..

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) We were talking earlier about rural America. Despite all its incredible advantages, especially its people, a disadvantage is that rural America, by definition, is a little more spread out. It’s a little more stretched out, right? Population density isn’t as great. So as a consequence, when we’ve seen all these investments in wireless and broadband and all these new technologies that are stitching the world together, a lot of times rural America is left out.

And that’s why, when we came into office, one of the big investments we said we were going to make is in broadband technology so that we can connect every single town all across America. We want 98 percent coverage when it comes to broadband, and we want that same kind of coverage when it comes to wireless — (applause) — because what that means is — what that means is, is that if there’s a small business in Cannon Falls that’s got a great idea, you don’t have to just confine your market to Cannon Falls; you can start selling in Rochester, and then you start selling in Des Moines, and then you start selling in New York and maybe you start selling something in Paris. And there are incredible opportunities in terms of business growth, but it requires a connection to all these wider markets.

The days are gone where any business is going to succeed just by selling right where they’re located. And that’s why we’ve made such a big investment in this, and I’m pleased to see that it’s working.

Coupled with a trip to America’s hot spots, President Obama also unveiled a report that Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America, which highlights what’s been happening in rural areas to boost the economy and job situation. There were a few bullet points that directly highlighted broadband…

In terms of promoting innovation and investment:

  • Expanded broadband access to over 7 million rural Americans, including 3 million rural households and over 350,000 rural businesses. This expansion of rural broadband access is helping to lower costs for businesses and bring jobs back to rural communities.
  • Established the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program to integrate clean energy into the country’s electricity system, resulting in new jobs and lower energy costs in rural America.

In terms of Improving access to quality, affordable healthcare, housing, education and other critical facilities:

  • Provided distance learning and telemedicine services to over 2,500 healthcare and educa¬tional facilities throughout rural America.

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