Broadband Communities

AUG-SEP 2012

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Broadband and Economic Development in Appalachia An important new study by researchers at the University of Tennessee sheds light on broadband and economic development but raises many new questions. By Ken Demlow ■ NewCom Technologies velopment is challenging. Few, if any, businesses locate in an area just because it has high-speed broadband; location, incentives, workforce and other issues also play significant roles. A new study of economic development efforts and needs in Appalachia, commissioned by the Appalachian Regional Commission and conducted by a research team at the University of Tennessee, sheds light on the role broadband plays in economic development there, but it still leaves many questions unanswered. Te researchers – one of whom, Eric C Ogle, I met at the BROADBAND COM- MUNITIES Summit last spring – studied 10 Appalachian counties in eight states from Pennsylvania to Mississippi. Tey noted, "During our travels and discus- sions, we witnessed firsthand the para- dox that often defines Appalachia: Te region is one of great beauty and a wealth of resources, yet remains burdened with learly defining and quantifying a causal link between high-speed broadband and economic de- Residents of Appalachia have many pressing social and economic problems, exacerbated by the lack of broadband access. pockets of poverty and privation. We also noted the vast gains made by the re- gion in the past half century and remain optimistic that Appalachia will reach its just potential. "Unlike prior studies, which relied heavily on quantitative methods, this study also makes use of extensive quali- tative tools and approaches. Project re- searchers surveyed community members, conducted site visits and conducted inter- views and focus groups with stakeholders to learn more about local efforts, policies and perceptions. As a result, this report adds a local voice to the discussion of de- velopment efforts and results in a broad assessment of economic conditions at the community level." Tis mixed methodol- About the Author Ken Demlow is the national business development manager for NewCom Technologies, which performs engineering services and network data management, including GIS plant mapping and smart-grid deployment, for the telecommunications industry. You can reach him at kdemlow@newcomtech.com or 765-366-8370. About the Report Te complete report by Tim Ezzell, Dayton Lambert, and Eric Ogle of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is available at www.arc.gov/research/researchreportdetails. asp?REPORT_ID=98 This word cloud represents the most frequent answers to questions posed by project re- searchers about pressing problems in Appala- chian counties. 40 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2012 ogy provides readers with two different types of information to consider – and makes the report very interesting. Te study is extremely wide-ranging. Te researchers offer compelling find- ings and recommendations about how regional economic development initia- tives affect and are perceived by local organizations and individuals, about youth, health, underutilized industrial parks, ways to use social media, how be- lief systems impact economic develop- ment and a host of other concerns. Tey

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