February 1, 2008 By News Report
The Minneapolis Digital Inclusion Fund has awarded its first nine grants totaling $200,000 to organizations across the city for programs to promote technology access and technology literacy.
These are the first grants awarded from the fund, which was created in 2007 as part of the contract between the City of Minneapolis and US Internet Wireless (USIW), the company currently building a citywide wireless network. The wireless contract included a Community Benefits Agreement that was the first of its kind in the country, and the Digital Inclusion Fund is a key component of the agreement. The fund is managed by The Minneapolis Foundation.
The nine grant awardees were chosen from 45 proposals received in 2007. In 2008, the fund will seek more applications for a new round of grant funding.
The purpose of the fund is to bridge the digital divide in Minneapolis by providing financial resources to organizations that work with low-income people, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants and refugees, displaced workers, seniors and other new users of technology.
USIW established the Digital Inclusion Fund with $200,000 in 2007, and it will contribute an additional $300,000 to the fund once the wireless network is completed early this year. In subsequent years, a percentage of USIW's revenue from wireless subscriptions will go into the fund.
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.