How much broadband does a business need? Ask a business owner.

I’m pleased to share this letter below from business owner Kevin Wald of RITALKA. The letter comes to us from Julie Rath from the Redwood Falls Chamber. Mr. Wald speaks eloquently about the challenges of running an international business with dicey telecommunications. As he says, his customers don’t care if he is in New England, New Guinea, New York, or New Ulm – but they are disturbed by a dropped call. And he’s already dealing with terabytes of information. Terabytes are taking hours – and that doesn’t work in today’s instant culture. Also, he reports that recruiting to a community with slow broadband is a challenge.

New Ulm Mayor,

Good to catch up with you yesterday.

Background

As you know I currently utilize seven rural locations, six of them in Minnesota.

  • Benson
  • Montevideo
  • Granite Falls
  • Redwood Falls
  • New Ulm
  • Cloquet
  • Watertown SD

We have 225 employees, and expect growth to drive us to 400 employees in the next few years.

We provide engineering, manufacturing, and electronic repair & logistics services to twelve industries, via my collective companies.

Very exciting times for us and our employees.

You will be hard pressed to find someone that is more committed, and invested, in outstate rural Minnesota, than I.

When I hear of people talk of broadband, and cell phone coverage, two topics jump to mind.

Challenge for my Clients

First, the capabilities I need to compete on the world markets.

We have years where over 60% of what we design and build end up on foreign soil, or on/in foreign oceans.

Often our clients have a sizeable USA footprint, but they are multi cultural companies, and we deal with all corners of the globe.

I had just gotten off a phone call with Sweden, and the day before with Hong Kong, when we talked.

My clients do not care if I am in New England, New Guinea, New York, or New Ulm.

They just want high quality work, on time, and on budget.

The data we deal with daily, is huge in quantity, and huge in importance.

The electronic equipment we utilize uses words like “Terabytes”.

I have files that currently take many hours to deliver via digital means to my clients.

In an instant culture, my clients do not want to hear of my rural Minnesota woes of broadband.

Having a “dropped” cell phone is so foreign to some of my clients it can actually upset them.

Never feels good to hear “Where the hell are you,… (followed by a derogatory comment).”

Challenge for recruiting

Second, the expectations for basic services for potential employees looking to relocate is key.

You can imagine the image that comes to mind when a potential employee from a metropolitan area hears the following comments:

You have to stand in that corner of the building to get cell coverage.”

“You will not be able to use your internet effectively from 4 pm to 8 pm because the school kids are on line.”

“What brand of cell phone do you have, not all work out here.”

I find many candidates that are excited to raise a family in a rural community, but they do not want to live in the digital equivalence of the 1980’s.

Although I have no extra time each week while I attempt to operate and grow my nine companies, this is important.

I am offering myself as a member of a state wide committee on broadband and cell phone infrastructure.

Rural America has a great value proposition for our clients and our employees.

Let’s not let that be damaged by something so simple to resolve.

Our grandparents dealt with rural water and rural electric.

We can surely take care of rural cell phone and rural broadband.

Sincerely,

Kevin R. Wald
CEO
www.RITALKA.com

 

This entry was posted in economic development, MN, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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