MIRC Video: Working Family Resource Center

Throughout the MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) initiative, participants and invited experts in broadband community development were asked to give presentations on their projects. This week we are going to be sharing some of the videos. The goals of each video was to share lessons learned. Hopefully these lessons will be helpful to others looking to promote better broadband in their communities. I want to note that the intention was to share info; the idea of providing a public archive came later – so it might help to think of these as podcasts more than videos.

In this video Beth Quist of Working Family Resource Center talks about their program.

Economic Impact of fiber in Lake County

The Grand Forks Herald recently featured the story of Lake County Internet efforts. We’ve talked about the project before – which is an ARRA-supported project intended to bring fiber to are.

The incumbents fear that the ARRA loan is too much and that taxpayers will end up paying back the hefty loan…

County officials estimate they need 65 percent of households to subscribe in order for them to repay their loan.

Larson, of Medicacom, doesn’t believe that’s realistic. He said to reach that number, the county will have to sign up a lot of new subscribers in rural areas, as well as take the majority of customers away from existing providers in larger towns like Two Harbors.

“It’s going to fail,” he said. “I don’t know how else to say it more plainly than that to the taxpayers of Lake County. It’s going to fail, and they’re going to have to pay it back.”

Local leaders feel that the County needs the fiber to increase safety and economic opportunities…

But Lake County Commissioner Paul Bergman said Mediacom has not improved or expanded its service, and could have itself applied for stimulus funds.

Bergman said the new network is critical to improve the region’s public safety. Twice in the past two years, including during recent flooding, the county lost 911 emergency service. He said a network with a backup line like the one the county is building will maintain service even if a line is cut.

He said the county also needs the new network for economic development.

“One of the things that I hear at class reunions is ‘I’d love to move back home if I had a job,’” Bergman said. “Well, here we bring in a whole new avenue where people, their headquarters might be in Minneapolis or Hong Kong, they could still work out of their house on a shore of a lake here in Lake County.”

MIRC Video: Winona

Throughout the MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) initiative, participants and invited experts in broadband community development were asked to give presentations on their projects. This week we are going to be sharing some of the videos. The goals of each video was to share lessons learned. Hopefully these lessons will be helpful to others looking to promote better broadband in their communities. I want to note that the intention was to share info; the idea of providing a public archive came later – so it might help to think of these as podcasts more than videos.

In this video Winona talks about their program.

Who’s online? What are they doing? Who needs a computer?

Thanks to John Shepard for sending me the latest stats from the US Census on computer and Internet use. First it gave me an excuse to try out Easle.ly – a free online tool that lets you build inforgraphics easily. I’ve included my newly build infographic here. (Hardly a work of genius – but I thought folks might be interested in the tool.) Second, it’s always helpful to take a look at the stats of who is using the Internet and where.

Who is not accessing the Internet at home?

According to the stats, 3.2 percent of those surveyed accessed the Internet only outside of their home, indicating to me that most of them probably did not have Internet access. Here’s a quick look at the demographic where a higher percentage went outside the home to get online:

  • Ages 15-25 – 6.3 percent
  • Ages 25-34 – 4.2 percent
  • Hispanics – 4.4 percent
  • Black alone – 4 percent
  • Unemployed – 5 percent
  • Less than $50,000 household income – 4.4 percent
  • With children ages 6-17 – 4.2 percent

So again these are people who probably can’t access the Internet from home – but still find value in using it. As you look at the list, there is clearly an economic barrier to having home Internet access. I have to think of the number of kids (ages 6-25) who are going to Internet cafes and libraries to do homework. I’m glad the public access centers are there – but it’s hard enough to get kids to do homework when they can do it on the kitchen table, now add a trudge to the library. The drive to use more technology will have an impact on these homes.

Who doesn’t have a computer?

According to the stats 76.7 percent of households surveyed had a computer at home. That seems to include desktops, laptops and handhelds. (There is a follow up question asking what kind of computer and offers those options.) There are some striking differences between the haves and the have-nots in computer ownership. Here are stats on demographic who fell well below the average computer ownership numbers:

  • 55 years and over – 65.8 percent
  • Black alone – 65.1 percent
  • Hispanics – 66.6 percent
  • Less than $50,000 household income – 65.9 percent
  • Less than high school graduate – 44 percent
  • Some college or associate degree – 66.8 percent
  • Not in labor force – 60.8 percent

Again we see that economics probably play a role – but the most striking stat – 44 percent of folks without a high school degree do not have a computer. Education attainment is clearly a marker here. I’m just not sure whether the education factor is a cause or effect. But it seems like there’s a door to be opened here – rewarding education efforts with a computer. (Also there’s a 5 point difference in computer ownership based on whether the household is led by a man or woman!)

What are people doing online?

The census data goes into much greater detail covering many more topics – but I wanted to include these top three – ending with looking at what folks who are online are doing. Census asked about a couple of specific activities – here are the high level results:

  • Take a course online – 11.4 percent
  • Search about healthcare – 35.5 percent
  • Search for government services – 33.2 percent
  • Search for a job – 24.8 percent

Years ago I used to do Internet training. In 1995 that meant demonstrating the Internet to general public. The first thing I learned was to find out what the audience cared about – and use the Internet to help them learn more about that topic. I think these stats can help do the same. The stats above indicate that older folks are not online to the same extent as younger folks – but the report indicated that 46.2 percent of folks over 65 go online to search about healthcare. That indicates a general interest from the demographic. You want to reach folks 25-34? They are looking for job information. (I add that for readers who are interested in the Brain Gain!) You want to reach women or people with disabilities? They are also big healthcare searchers.

As I said, there’s much more to the stats – definitely worth checking out.

MIRC Video: Cook County

Throughout the MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) initiative, participants and invited experts in broadband community development were asked to give presentations on their projects. This week we are going to be sharing some of the videos. The goals of each video was to share lessons learned. Hopefully these lessons will be helpful to others looking to promote better broadband in their communities. I want to note that the intention was to share info; the idea of providing a public archive came later – so it might help to think of these as podcasts more than videos.

In this video Cook County talks about their program.

MIRC Community Update: Leech Lake

As the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) initiative winds down, demonstration communities are taking time to reflect on what has happened in their community as a result of added focus on broadband and broadband projects in the area. Each community will go through this process looking at what’s happened, lessons learned and plans for the future. One of the public benefits of federal funding for a project link this is the opportunity each community has to share what they have learned and the opportunity that other communities have to glean from their lessons. And so today I’m pleased to share notes from Windom (Actually I have notes to share all week. I’ll add this preamble to each for historical context – but each day will be a new community.)

Here is the update from Leech Lake

Bernadine provided a nice meeting introduction.

Cass Lake Chamber has been awarded the MES $1500 community grant.  Sue Schafroth of the Cass Lake Chamber will take the lead on helping area small businesses get online.  The Chamber and band are both interested in the asset mapping idea.

Asset mapping starting in the natural resource division.  They are now mapping tribal trust housing sites.  Matching up the livable lots with quality septic systems is the first priority.  Also mapping wild rice assets now.  Wanting to move to mapping of businesses and other recreational community mapping.  Some of the assets are to highlighted through Google maps – parks, business, etc.  Others are more for tribal policy and management, like the housing sites.  This ties to state tax revenue – tribal revenue logistics.  This is a long term project, and will be ongoing.

The TEP Project – Computer Digital Literacy training.  Incorporating the value of the skills into the pay rate of TEP.  They are now collecting data from participants to better target future training.   Now making referrals to ABE and other agencies for continued training.

The oldest trainee was 72 years old.  We also have youth WIA workers for up to 7 weeks and MFIB 12 weeks of work.

TEP jobs can turn into full time positions.  The TEP is also active placing workers in the Twin Cities.  Janice will provide some stories. Moving people towards their GED.  One young woman learned some computer skills and is now pursing GED using computer labs.  The high tech – high touch support is paying off!

They are using some tribal staff to teach specific Office applications.  TEP student workers help learners in the computer labs, which is a great benefit to both trainers and learners.

LLBO (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) is strengthening ties with DEED in efforts to bring a satellite workforce center; MIRC has facilitated this emerging partnership.

Tribal college is considering adding some marketing online training emphasis.

PC’s for People have distributed the first 25 computers.  Now they have received the additional 25.  It’s too late in the year to give computers through the Head Start program as they are not in session.  Alternative approach is to work through TEP and distribute them through TEP.

They have had local PC’s for People with the Boys and Girls Clubs, TEP, Bemidji State, 3 day event.

They are thinking about a Local YouTube festival. It’s nice to see the innovation with you programming.

Boys and Girls Club has a new computer lab with eight computers. Lab is open; it’s a nice lab.

And the bottom line results:

  • Broadband adoption up to 52.9% from 48.8%.
  • Broadband access up to 97.4% from  83.6%

Some comments from attendees:

Mike Jones: “I want to thank you for the opportunity to be part of this program.  This has helped us demonstrate to our  community members that our temporary employment program is not just about day laborers but that we are working to prepare our people for better employment opportunities. We’ll be training doctors and nurses here pretty soon.”

Janice Gale: “I never thought it would turn out to be this big for us when we got started.”

MIRC Video: Upper Minnesota Valley RDC

Throughout the MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) initiative, participants and invited experts in broadband community development were asked to give presentations on their projects. This week we are going to be sharing some of the videos. The goals of each video was to share lessons learned. Hopefully these lessons will be helpful to others looking to promote better broadband in their communities. I want to note that the intention was to share info; the idea of providing a public archive came later – so it might help to think of these as podcasts more than videos.

In this video Upper Minnesota Valley RDC talks about their program.