in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
Improve technology (broadband access) in rural areas and invest in local, small business development
From: Terry B., Rison, AR
The old adage that it is better to be an average Joe in the middle of Arkansas than to be a genius in China is no longer true. Today's global economy leaves many behind. In rural areas in the United States, low wages, long commutes for work, and little or no broadband access keep communities poor and underdeveloped, and provide no incentive to young people to stay in their home communities after graduating from high school or college. A combination of buy and eat local and global commerce will allow these communities to thrive, grow, and once again keep their best and brightest at home to raise families and prosper.
Rural counties and communities should be provided with money, hardware and technical assistance to allow their communities to become county-wide WiFi hotspots. Computer use and programming and software development grants would help once the access is established. The powers-that-be want to promote the obsolete model of providing tax incentives to global corporations that come into an area and deplete the workforce and community of talent and ambition, only to pull up stakes and leave many unemployed people and yet another abandoned plant behind in their wakes. Small business and individual incentives should rival any provided to industry.
Industry has shown repeatedly that they are interested only in their bottom line, and when the grass seems greener on another continent, they will flee. Education and skills cannot be taken from a community, but the community can become so unattractive to talented, driven people that they also flee -- albeit to cities and more prosperous states, not overseas. We need to be able to market small and rural towns as being a part of the international commerce super highway. This can be dome through technological equity and small business support and development, to include training in how to operate a sustainable business and access capital.