The Daily Yonder posted an article last week from a “gigagigger” who has made his livelihood through broadband…
An unexpected turn of events accelerates a community development scholar’s entry into the gig economy. Equal parts challenge and opportunity, gigging is increasingly the way Americans work.
His story caught my eye in contrast to the recent report that broadband doesn’t correlate with greater entrepreneurialism in rural areas. The report found that high levels of broadband adoption actually meant lower incidence of entrepreneurship and creative class employment.
His story seems to ring true with what I wrote about that article earlier – people start their own businesses when jobs are scarce. Certainly that is true with him and broadband made that leap easier…
Gig, as a prefix with an added “a” can be a measure of a lot of something, such as a gigawatt or a gigabyte, or can become part of tons of other slang words, according to the Urban Dictionary. There seem to be a lot of gig workers in the United States, somewhere in the neighborhood of 46 million, according to some estimates. Perhaps we can coin a facetious term, gigagiggers (nowhere near a billion), who are an incredibly positive spur for creativity and job creation in rural communities. On the down side, the growth of gig employment is symptomatic of a larger plutocratic economy that has all too frequently been unable (unwilling) to create a broad range of full-time, permanent positions, especially in rural areas.
Broadband may be necessary to start a business (or at least makes is a heck of a lot easier) but not sufficient.
I am a gigagigger and have been for 15 years. I didn’t need to worry about insurance. That was a help. And my dad is an entrepreneur – that helped even more. If entrepreneurship is a goal in rural areas I think it makes sense to promote broadband but also make sure those other supports are in place – insurance (the author of the article mentions that too) and education or mentoring.
And childcare. That would have been helpful too. I joked while touring a new coworking space that what they really needed was childcare but think of the opportunities there. Gig work is great work if you’re a parent but there are times when you need to make a phone call without Barney singing in the background.
Broadband is a great first step, we just need a few more to make it easier to take the leap into starting a business.