Broadband comes up at Minnesota State Economic Competitiveness Summit

Bill_ColemanIt was interesting to attend the DEED Conference this week – State Economic Competitiveness Summit.  Danna MacKenzie, new director of the Office of Broadband facilitated a session on broadband and economic development that included Wade Fauth of Blandin Foundation. The Blandin Foundation blog posted excerpts from Wade’s talk…

In his opening remarks, Blandin Foundation Vice President Wade Fauth explained how rural communities need both broadband access, and the ability to use it, in order to thrive — and even survive –in an ever more globalized world.

“Our long standing mission has been to strengthen rural Minnesota communities. We have the privilege of doing this work today because of an investment that the community of Grand Rapids made 110 years ago in a piece of indispensable infrastructure. In 1902, the community harnessed the power of the rapids on the Mississippi River by building a dam that powered a paper mill that built our community and organization.

The Foundation has not forgotten its roots. Part of what we do today is to identify and invest in the next generations of indispensable infrastructure. We believe that broadband is the indispensable infrastructure of the 21st century.”

Mirroring the conference theme, he continued

“From our deep experience with communities, we see that capitalizing on the promise of the Internet is as much about investing in human capacity as it is about investing in technological capacity. We’ve seen over and over how well-leveraged investment in broadband access and use can breathe vibrancy into communities and local economies.”

He ended by extending a hand, inviting others — both public and private — to engage in the work that will support concerted, community-based efforts to ensure all citizens are able to take advantage of the Internet.

“This is only possible through partnership — all sorts of partnerships. If we want to meet the expectations and opportunities of all Minnesotans, it will take coordinated investment of resources by all of us. The work of bringing the promise of the Internet to all Minnesotans clearly is not done.”

It was great to see broadband on the agenda at a Minnesota economic development conference.  No such topic at the EDAM conference also held this week.

As I listened to the many speakers talk about workforce, innovation, inclusion and marketing challenges and opportunities, I kept thinking about the relevance of the Intelligent Community framework that includes these four elements, plus broadband.  Blandin Foundation has been using this framework for several years now to help rural communities develop strategies and projects that increase their economic competitiveness.  At the state level, I think leaders are connecting the need for quality, ubiquitous broadband as a tool for reaching state goals.

They did highlight the new “Made in Minnesota” database.  All community economic developers should get their businesses listed.  Check it out.

1 thought on “Broadband comes up at Minnesota State Economic Competitiveness Summit

  1. Blandin Foundation Vice President Wade Fauth explained how rural communities need both broadband access, and the ability to use it

    On Jan. 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. at TIES, Snelling and Larpenter in St. Paul, a new organization called Educelerate is going to have a discussion on innovation in professional development of educators. It’s all about broadband and the use of it by educators to get their CEUs. Here’s the link:

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