Kentucky reports that getting internet connectivity into remote parts of the state – say, like the foothill counties of the Sierras – has been a boon to economic development of the region. The estimated number of new jobs created by ConnectKentucky is about 63,000. According to an article by Ann Carrns in today’s WSJ, ConnectKentucky is “a nonprofit with a roughly $2 million annual budget that has worked for the past four years to expand the availability and use of broadband Internet connections in the state's rural areas.”
Now that’s $2M over the entire state of about 4.3 million souls. Not all pro rata calculations are necessarily correct, but it’s a good place to start. Say, that we organize a handful of gold country counties with a total population of one million people and start a non-profit program I’ll call ConnectGoldCountry. It would then require about $500,000 a year to do the same thing. CGC could, perhaps, be run/promoted by the equivalent of our ERC from all the counties.
Then in four years or less, we would need to spend $50K a year and generate from that 6,300 jobs, or at least the capacity to support that level of job creation. ConnectKentucky now has a spin-off called Connected Nation that is supposed to help replicate Kentucky’s experience across the land. We should be able to get all kinds of input from them on telecomms, how to get funding, etc. Anyway, it’s worth a look by our local telecom and economic development mavens like Steve Monaghan (Nevada County’s Chief Information Officer) and Gil Mathew (CEO of our Economic Resources Council).
For those who don’t subscribe to the newspaper, I have taken the liberty of making a pdf of the WSJ article and you can download it here Download faster_and_stronger.pdf. (I hope that they won’t yell at me too much since spreading the word about rural connectivity is the purpose of the piece.)