This week the NTIA announced their final ARRA broadband awards; Minnesota was part of a winning multistate effort to provide online educational opportunities to adults. Connect Minnesota also was awarded funding to extend their mapping in the state for another three years.
We’re excited for the state and it makes us even prouder of our ARRA-funded MIRC project. We feel like the old timers with five months under our belt. Our 11 demonstration communities spent the summer working on their strategies to improve broadband adoption locally. They have unveiled RFPs locally asking folks to submit projects for their consideration. The RDCs have been helping to spread the word beyond the demonstration community borders.
Our project partners have been honing their offerings to meet the needs of the communities. Some folks, such as the University of Minnesota Extension, have hired staff members to manage the program. Other programs, such as PCs for People, have been busy putting computers in the communities and picking up discarded computers to refurbish. We’re in a groove and we’re happy to share our story.
I was pleased to co-present with Bill Coleman and LaDonna Boyd about the Intelligent Community Forum at the annual development conference at DEED. The Intelligent Community Forum provides the underpinnings for our Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities project. You can learn more from our presentation below.
The idea is for communities to build upon a base of solid broadband infrastructure, to pursue the creation, attraction and support of knowledge workers; spur innovation; and address digital inclusion. Communities create their marketing/advocacy story based on these assets.
We’re going to look further into the Intelligent Community Forum with Robert Bell and others October 13-14 at the 2010 Blandin Broadband Conference: Cultivating the Culture of Use.
We will hear from experts, researchers, students and folks in the field who are creating programs to help boost broadband use in their communities. We will also have time and space for attendees to ask questions and tell their stories, and follow up on the work of the Minnesota Ultra High-Speed Broadband Taskforce to answer the question, “Where are we now – one year later?”
The conference is open to everyone. We’re hoping to get a great variety of voices to help paint that picture of where we are – and maybe to start talking about where we will be next year.