It’s a bit boggling to imagine so much broadband technology could be woven into the far reaches of Alaska’s vast wilderness, but on August 25th it became a reality. Representatives of the organizations and people of Southwest Alaska who are benefitting from this important project, including a variety of local, state and federal officials, met in Dillingham to mark progress on the TERRA-SW project.
When complete, TERRA-SW will make broadband available to more than 9,000 rural Alaskan households and nearly 750 businesses in the covered communities. The project will also serve numerous public, non-profit, private community institutions and entities such as regional healthcare providers, school districts and other regional and Alaska Native organizations. TERRA-SW will provide middle-mile terrestrial broadband service to 65 remote, rural communities in Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (Y-K Delta), including Bethel, Dillingham and King Salmon. Read more »
This week, I led a meeting in the Roosevelt Room at the White House with leaders of a host of rural organizations to discuss the White House Rural Council. The White House Rural Council, which was established by President Obama on June 9, 2011, will build on this Administration’s unprecedented efforts to spur job creation and economic growth in rural America. Along with Jon Carson, the Director of the Office of Public Engagement and Doug McKalip of the White House Domestic Policy Council, we discussed the Council’s efforts to improve coordination among federal agencies. We focused in on ways to help better leverage existing federal resources in rural America – and on how to facilitate private-public partnerships that can move the needle in building stronger rural communities.
The meeting was a chance for me to listen to our rural partners on the issues that need to be addressed and discuss potential solutions. Some of the key issues raised included the need to coordinate more with our federal partners on health care, broadband, and other critical infrastructure; how to increase the availability of capital and lending to rural businesses and families; efforts to remove barriers to young and beginning farmers; and strategies for establishing better partnerships with states, tribes, local governments and the private sector. Many of the leaders gathered also expressed appreciation for the renewed focus on rural America and the importance the White House has placed on these issues. Read more »
Access to capital, cutting edge technology and more responsive government programs will help drive rural innovation, according to participants at a White House Business Council roundtable in Charles City, Iowa yesterday. Facilitated by USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Administrator Jonathan Adelstein, the forum drew a group of rural business leaders from around the region. They raised issues ranging from the length of time it takes to process passport and visa applications to new regulations on banks and financial institutions.
Adelstein, who is one of the Obama Administration’s leading advocates for rural broadband, heard an extensive discussion of the shortcomings of rural broadband in Charles City. At the same time, rural telephone cooperatives described their success working with RUS to improve their systems. Charles City Mayor Jim Erb told Adelstein there exists a “rural-rural” divide in which some communities receive exceptional broadband service while others do not. Adelstein said the Obama Administration is working to extend high speed broadband throughout rural America and that USDA programs may be able to help. The probability that economic development and job creation in rural areas will be driven by access to high speed broadband was stressed. Read more »
Cross posted from the White House blog:
This morning, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a White House Rural Council, the first entity of its kind established to focus on policy initiatives for Rural Americans. The President’s signature on this document represents a truly historic moment for the nation. I am honored to serve as the Chair of the Council and work directly with my Cabinet colleagues from across the federal government to improve the economic conditions and quality of life for millions of Rural Americans.
President Obama has already established an impressive record in rural areas, which the Rural Council will build on. The Administration’s record includes substantial investments in rural America to modernize our Nation’s infrastructure, provide broadband access to 10 million Americans, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, and provide affordable health care. Nevertheless, the President believes that even more needs to be done in order to fully capitalize on the emerging opportunities in Rural America. Despite recent advances, rural communities continue to struggle to maintain the population and businesses needed for sustained economic growth. Read more »
April marked an important month for northeastern Minnesotans. Ground was broken to mark the beginning of a three-year project to supply high-speed broadband access across eight counties and surrounding of the Arrowhead region of Minnesota. The project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in conjunction with USDA Rural Development. The Northeast Service Cooperative (NESC) in Mt. Iron, Minn. will oversee the project.
Senator Al Franken attended the groundbreaking and told the gathered media that creating rural broadband opportunities was a big part of the Recovery Act. Read more »
Anita J. (Janie) Dunning, Missouri State Director, and Jonathan Adelstein, RUS Administrator (center), painting the Ralls County PWSD No. 1 water tower
A three day visit to Missouri, the “Show Me State” allowed me to join Janie Dunning, Rural Development State Director, to see how rural areas benefiting from infrastructure investments made possible through USDA Rural Development programs and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) financing. Read more »