Economic development is a hot topic just about everywhere. Municipalities looking to increase their commercial tax base, existing businesses looking to increase traffic to their establishments, and service companies looking to expand their markets, all understand the benefits of building a sustainable and strong economic base from which everyone can benefit.
Where economic development is concerned, rural areas around the country, where it’s costly to build infrastructure, lag behind metropolitan locales. We’ve all heard plenty of discussion touting high-speed Internet deployments – particularly fiber technologies – as key to economic development in rural communities.
Building for Economic Development
Many rural Internet and telephone providers are finding ways to build fiber infrastructure to help with the cause. OTELCO, for example, has allocated capital improvement funds to provide fiber to the premise for a 2 mile stretch of a commercially zoned state road in Gray, ME, and has also been awarded matching grant funds from the ConnectME Authority to construct fiber to the premise in extremely rural sections of Gray, New Gloucester, and Lowell, Maine. All of these projects are mutually beneficial to the residents, businesses, the municipalities, and to OTELCO. Businesses dependent on high-speed internet are more likely to locate in the commercial area, residents are more likely to be able to work from their homes, the municipalities could see an increase in both home based and commercial business.
Sustaining Economy Development
By offering business solutions that help businesses improve their bottom line, Internet and telecom providers help businesses to operate more efficiently. Profitability and efficiency lead to sustainability. Cloud hosted technologies, included hosted IP phone systems, and the managed services to support those technologies, can be key to keeping business owners focused on growing their businesses instead of fretting over their mission critical technology.
An Eye to the Future
Another way to build the economy is to actively encourage and support new business. The SBA, Chambers of Commerce, development corporations, and other non-profit organizations around the country do just that.
We’ve talked recently about the responsibility of providers to promote digital literacy toward a goal of economic growth, similarly, we feel a responsibility to support new business. To that end, OTELCO is currently working with 2 non-profit organizations:
- The Libra Foundation Libra Future Fund has equipped a seven station business incubator in Yarmouth Hall at the Pineland business Campus in New Gloucester, ME. OTELCO is providing Internet connectivity and hosted telephones for the project.
- Also in Maine, the Gray New Gloucester Development Corp. is conducting a new business competition called the Grow GNG Challenge. The winning business will receive a $10,000 forgivable loan and more than $7,000 worth of in-kind business support and services. Included in those in-kind services, OTELCO will be providing telephone and Internet for 1 year.
We all benefit from sustained economic development, why shouldn’t we all do our part to make it happen?