Broadband and Economic Development: Important, But There’s So Much More

The Philosophy of Broadband and Economic Development

Broadband and Economic DevelopmentWe continually hear about the importance of broadband and economic development in Maine and just about everywhere else.  From the OTELCO perspective, reliable broadband is the key, but as important as connectivity is, other factors come into play.

In New Gloucester, Maine, where the OTELCO corporate offices are located, the Gray – New Gloucester Development Corporation is helping the economic development cause in its own way.  OTELCO has worked with the GNGDC in the past, conducting a business summit on Broadband and Economic Development for area businesses, and elected officials.  The towns of Gray and New Gloucester, Maine are sister communities that share a school district and comprise one of OTELCO’ 6 rural telephone company footprints.

Styled after several other successful programs in other communities, the GNGDC launched its inaugural Grow GNG Business Challenge in May of 2016.  When it was time for the Grow GNG Challenge, OTELCO was pleased to be one of many area businesses to support the project with in-kind products and services.  Additionally, OTELCO President and CEO, Rob Souza agreed to participate as a judge.

The winner of the Grow GNG Challenge is Dr. Travis Dyer of Empower Chiropractic and Acupuncture.  Travis has selected the Pineland Campus in New Gloucester, Maine for his practice. Empower and Dr. Dyer received a prize package that included a $10,000 forgivable loan and another $7,000 worth of in-kind products and services.

It Takes a Village.

The cash prize that the GNGDC  offered came from $5,000 in advertising revenue from the organization’s annual GNG Local Magazine.  That ad revenue came from local businesses.  Androscoggin Bank, from its Community Reinvestment Act Committee, pledged $5,000 annually for a total of 3 years to support the program as well.  The $7,000 in products and services also came from local businesses and property owners.  Several area landlords offered special deals, area chambers of commerce provided free memberships, professional services included legal advice, web consultation, and interior design, while other businesses provided free photography and printing services.  In the interest of its ‘broadband and economic development’ philosophy, and its commitment to community participation, OTELCO is providing Empower with free basic telephone and Internet service for one year.

Even though many of us hold the philosophy that  broadband and economic development go hand in hand, there’s so much more to it.  And, sometimes, whether directly or indirectly, it truly does take a village.

And the Village Benefits

A cycle begins as existing business benefits from new businesses, and new businesses grow to support more new businesses.  The GNGDC is now working on the 3rd annual issue of GNG Local to both promote the area and raise the revenue it needs for the 2017 Grow Business Challenge prize money.

As we all look to the New Year, let’s resolve to find new ways to support our own villages.  In the long run, we’ll all benefit.

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