May 28, 2009 By Wayne Hanson
Over the past few years, the United States has begun to lag in the race to deploy broadband, especially in rural areas. However, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides $7.2 billion for broadband grants, loans and loan guarantees administered by the Agriculture and Commerce departments, and charges the FCC with completing a national broadband plan by next February.
To initiate that effort, The FCC just released a report -- Bringing Broadband to Rural America: Report on a Rural Broadband Strategy. In a release, the FCC called the 83-page report a "starting point for the development of policies to deliver broadband to rural areas and restore economic growth and opportunity for Americans residing and working in those areas."
"Infrastructure deployment is something Americans do well," says the report, "it plays to our national strengths. We have built out canals, bridges, electricity, telephone service, roads and highways. Now, with much history to learn from and with an array of technological resources at our disposal, we can and will do it again."
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.