Economic Development is a greater driver for promoting better broadband access – but providing access isn’t enough, especially when working with small businesses and startups. A community should also look at providing training to help local businesses get online.
I was excited to see colleague and friend get a nice nod in the Southwestern Minnesota Independent this week. The article (U of M Extension shows businesses how to be at home on the Web) featured Neil Linscheid, University of Minnesota Extension educator and the UMN Extension classes designed to help businesses make better use of the Internet…
“Businesses’ use of the Internet in small communities hasn’t risen with availability,” said Neil Linscheid, an educator in community economics at the University of Minnesota Extension office in Marshall. “Two years ago in Madison, Minnesota we looked online at the Chamber of Commerce listing to see how many businesses we could find using a search engine. We found seven.”
Linscheid has conducted 56 classes in the past two years around southwest Minnesota on behalf of the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities project.
The project is funded by a two-year federal grant administered through the Blandin Foundation. The goal is to work with non-adopters to get them online.
I attended a class that Neil presented earlier this month on Google Tools. He did a great job – as did the attendees. As is often the case, everyone comes into the room with differing levels of experience but as a group everyone worked together through the various tools and talked about how they can use the tools together to promote each other and their community.
It’s a rising tide that lifts all boats in the harbors that choose to promote broadband availability and use. (UMN Extension is offering a free taster sample of their classes; contact them for more info.)