Broadband: The Last Mile October 31, 2006Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Technology, Workforce.
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“The last mile” is undoubtedly the most challenging part of any municipal infrastructure project. The Wikipedia entry delves into much greater detail about the challenges of the last mile, and I strongly suggest that readers check this out. Their introduction sets the stage:
The last mile is the final leg of delivering connectivity from a communications provider to a customer. Usually referred to by the telecommunications and cable television industries, it is typically seen as an expensive challenge because “fanning out” wires and cables is a considerable physical undertaking.
It’s an even tougher undertaking when the last mile involves wiring rural areas. When the fanning out isn’t to a number of individual homes in a subdivision but a smaller group of homes in a rural setting, the challenge is even more expensive and the physical undertaking even more exhausting.
In the case of broadband-driven telecommunications, it doesn’t have to be that way. In our wireless world, a municipal Wireless Local Area Network (also known as WiFi) is a possibility. Not to mention another form called WiMAX. (Satellite TV providers like DirecTV also offer broadband on an individual basis.) I’ve blogged about municipal WiFi networks before (here, here and here), but the WiMAX concept hasn’t been explored on this site.
Under cover of a wonderfully-titled blog entry (“Broadband to the Boonies“) , Web Worker Daily shares with us a possible solution that can make the country – and world – truly connected. While WWD takes the perspective of the telecommuter who wants to live in a rural or exurban setting, I’ll take the approach of the rural worker who wants to tap into the global economy.
Super-regional economic development dialogue: The university role October 30, 2006Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Events, Innovation, Research.
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My favorite economic development blogs are picking up on the Brookings Institution’s concept of a Great Lakes compact. (Thanks to Don Iannone at Economic Development Futures Journal for a link to the Brookings Insitution’s report.)
- Burgh Diaspora offered their review of the concept from the Steel City’s perspective.
- Don Iannone offers a mention for the concept (link above).
- Buffaloi.com gives the perspective from the eastern edge of this theoretical region.
- The Cuyahoga County (OH) Planning Commission adds a reference to the report in their blog.
- Ed Morrison foreshadowed the report at Brewed Fresh Daily.
And that’s nothing in comparison to the mass media coverage of the report.
But perhaps the most interesting extrapolation of this report comes from Bill Testa of the Chicago Federal Reserve, who explores the possibilities of university involvement in such an super-regional alliance:
Municipal internet access broadens…and will grow even wider October 30, 2006Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Innovation, Technology.
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Lots of information about municipal internet programming is bubbling up…
Convergence reader Laz Sanchez refers us to a MuniWireless.com report indicating that American municipalities are planning to spend $3 billion on public wi-fi internet infrastructure. Why? Try this rationale from Esme Vos of MuniWireless:
“We are now long past the stage where municipal wireless was something primarily for small communities that had been bypassed by incumbent service providers,” Vos said in a statement. “Cities and counties throughout the country–and around the world–have begun to get it: Public wireless networks are an essential part of local quality-of-life and public-policy strategies.”
The initiative was launched by the City of Atlanta to partner with a service provider to deploy a citywide wireless broadband network called the “muni wifi” program. Wireless Atlanta will offer residents, visitors, and businesses the ability to access the Internet anytime and anywhere within the city and is expected to be deployed in 2008.
In providing city-wide wireless internet access, Atlanta, like Boston, Baltimore, San Francisco and other cities in U.S., hopes to promote tourism, economic development, stimulate technological innovation, and improve the quality and efficiency of city services.
Proposals of three applicants are being evaluated and after a provider is chosen, contract negociacions are expected to be completed no later than the summer of 2007. Deployment of the network is expected to be completed sometime in 2008.
Smart move by Atlanta. As urban centers face the challenge of differentiating themselves from their suburban neighbors when attracting potential residents, services like municipal wi-fi are critical. Simply put, cities have to continue to offer compelling reasons to live in town.
WIRED: 2 regional blogs pick up on the action October 30, 2006Posted by Tom in Community, Opinion, WIRED, Workforce.
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Part of the effectiveness of programs like WIRED will come from its concepts entering the public consciousness. You can see some of that within the media, but another form will be the online communities of blogs.
To that end, Electric City Renaissance (Scranton, PA) and the John Locke Foundation’s Piedmont (NC) Publius add links to their respective region’s WIRED projects. Good for them. Hopefully, they will eventually offer independent observations of WIRED from their regions.
[UPDATE] Sam Hieb, author of the Piedmont Publius blog entry, refers to an article he wrote in Carolina Journal when the North Carolina WIRED program was announced.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, as a workforce professional, I’ll agree to disagree with the premise of the article. Targeted workforce training initiatives that are designed to meet market demands for specific workers makes perfect sense, especially in this global economy. If the Unites States isn’t offering workforce programming to match, if not exceed, programming by our worldwide competitors…well, that’s unilateral disarmament in the talent wars. There are many, many ways to better misspend the people’s monies.
WIRED: Alabama-Mississippi update October 30, 2006Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Opinion, WIRED, Workforce.
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The WIRED consortium appears to be making the rounds – this time, a gruop from East Mississippi Community College updated the Noxubee County (MS) Board of Supervisors on WIRED:
The team, which consisted of Vice President of Workforce and Community Service Dr. Raj Shaunak, Community Leadership Facilitator Danny Avery and Community Development Facilitator Bruce Hanson, explained the federally funded enterprise-readiness program seeks to equip low income persons, through education and encouragement, to better themselves and their communities in rural regions throughout the U.S.
Macon Mayor Bob Boykin and other Noxubee officials joined the supervisors in listening to the presentation.
The WIRED program has been at work in Noxubee County since the first part of October, the EMCC officials said. The city of Macon is partnering with EMCC and holding night classes at the former Cal-Jac building on Eighth Street in Macon.
Mayor Boykin said the city is supplying the building and facilities while EMCC furnishes the instructors, equipment and supplies.
“It will come back to us in terms of better lives for people and in the long run that will mean economic growth for our community,” Boykin said.
I think it’s getting close to time to ask the question: What is this WIRED project about, specifically? I understand that they’re linking community colleges together to build an “enterprise-ready” workforce, but there is precious little in the public dialogue about how to get there. Some programs, like California’s space program and Colorado’s tech workforce pipeline development, are easy to understand. Others, like this (and Indiana, to be fair to Alabama-Mississippi) don’t appear to have their sea legs yet.
Venture capitalist habits; Managing the young workforce October 27, 2006Posted by Tom in Economic Development, Technology, Workforce.
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You ask, what is the common denominator for these two topics? The Creativity Exchange weblog.
First, the habits of venture capitalists. I picked up this concept from Burgh Diaspora and jumped on it through the Creativity Exchange – the New York Times “Digital Domain” section shares a concept coming out of Silicon Valley called the “20-minute rule.” Long story short: If you want venture capital, you are much better served by being within a 20 minute radius of your funder.
Meet the “20-minute rule” that guides fateful decisions in Silicon Valley. Craig Johnson, managing director of Concept2Company Ventures, a venture capital firm in Palo Alto, Calif., who has 30 years of experience in early-stage financings, said he knew many venture capitalists who adhered to this doctrine: if a start-up company seeking venture capital is not within a 20-minute drive of the venture firm’s offices, it will not be funded.
Mr. Johnson explained that close proximity permits the investor to provide in-person guidance; initially, that may entail many meetings each week before investor and entrepreneur come to know each other well enough to rely mostly on the phone for updates. Those initial interactions are fateful. “Starting a company is like launching a rocket,” Mr. Johnson said. “If you’re a tenth of a degree off at launch, you may be 1,000 miles off downrange.”
In a Convergence-related twist, the workforce and community environment in the region give the VC’s greater comfort in making investments:
WIRED: Pensacola details, Colorado program greenlighted October 27, 2006Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Technology, WIRED, Workforce.
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I think that this will be the last of my WIRED update catchup posts:
- Charlotte Crane offers an inspiring column in the Pensacola News-Journal that overviews the recent round of WIRED training grants for innovation-driven employers:
Among aims (no less) of the six winners of $100,000 entrepreneur grants: revolutionize business travel, reorganize the way businesses worldwide capture and reuse high-value information, help medical researchers monitor human activity. They’ll also: aid in crime-solving, increase data security for businesses and enable construction of stronger buildings.
· DayJet Corp., although based in Delray Beach, will impact our region when it launches its “affordable, personalized, on-demand jet travel” by early next year; Pensacola and Tallahassee are two of five initial Florida launch sites. Flying a fleet of the new Eclipse 500 aircraft — touted as the world’s first very light jet (VLJ) — the service will expand to 20 Southeast locations within a year. Pending travel options have drawn keen interest from Pensacola and neighboring Baldwin County (Ala.), says a DayJet representative.
Alabama-Mississippi WIRED updates October 26, 2006Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, WIRED, Workforce.
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Foundation-building in Dixie:
- It appears that community coordination is a larger concern in the 36-county, 2-state WIRED region in Alabama and Mississippi. To that end, Jones County Community College recently hosted a region-wide workshop as part of their strategic planning:
“We enjoyed hosting the WIRED meeting,” said Regina Kitchens, a member of the JCJC team. “We were able to learn more about the other college districts and the economies of those areas. Our weekly WIRED meetings will allow us the opportunity to create a plan that will aid the entire region in reaching its goal — to become enterprise ready.”
- The Hattiesburg American details a little more of the thinking behind this WIRED effort:
“The whole point is to regionally brand us as a special place to do business,” just as areas like Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle have distinguished themselves, JCJC President Jesse Smith said Thursday.
Reemphasizing the basics in a global economy October 26, 2006Posted by Tom in Economic Development, Education, Workforce.
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John Florez of Utah writes a strong op-ed that suggests a globally-ready workforce needs to get the building blocks right:
The global economy has changed our nation’s workplace to where there are boundless opportunities for those who have the knowledge and skills prepared to take them. Some require a college education. There are also many good-paying jobs that require higher skills. The past generation found that a high school diploma got you in the door to decent-paying jobs. But today, a high school diploma is no assurance that a graduate would have the basic skills needed to get one of the jobs in the current market.
Public education, designed for the industrial economy, is slow to change in preparing students with the skills required for the new high-performance workplace. Today, high-wage employers spend needless recruitment dollars trying to hire college graduates, and bypassing high school students, in order to find workers with strong basic skills. If all students left high school with those basic skills, employers would have a wider and less-expensive pool of workers from which to choose. Furthermore, parents would not have to send their children to college to get the basic education they should have received in high school.
Indiana: Advanced Manufacturing grant detailed October 26, 2006Posted by Tom in Economic Development, Education, Workforce.
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Inside Indiana Business relays an Indiana Workforce Development press release further explaining the planned uses of their recently-announced $1.8 million, 3-year US Department of Labor Advanced Manufacturing grant:
The grant, awarded to Ivy Tech Community College for a partnership between Ivy Tech and Purdue University, targets transportation-related advanced manufacturing and will provide training for 550 workers in seven cities: Columbus, Lafayette, Richmond, Terre Haute, Madison, Evansville, and Indianapolis. It will also be used to develop a new statewide advanced manufacturing curriculum to help ensure a steady supply of trained workers.
“Just last week when we announced the new Cummins plant in Columbus, we talked about the importance of investing in the education and training of our workforce. With those new jobs and others on the way at Honda, Toyota and throughout Indiana, this grant will boost our preparation efforts,” said Governor Mitch Daniels.
While the initial focus of the grant targets the transportation sector, the long-term goal of the partnership is aimed at a broad range of industries. The two institutions will build workforce capacity in three areas: short-term pre-foundation skills training, foundational training utilizing the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council curriculum (MSSC), and technical, more specialized skills.
It looks to me like this grant is right in line with the Convergence concepts of an aligned workforce development-economic development system.