Economic Stimulus has Good Things for Rural Broadband

On, the article “Broadband Bill Disappoints Nearly Everyone” by Spencer E. Ante and Arik Hesseldahl gives some insight into how the broadband component of the economic stimulus package is structured. Fortunately, the rural broadband interests are the ones not so disappointed.

About the only groups that are totally happy with the bill are advocates of rural broadband. One such organization is ConnectedNation, a nonprofit that seeks to encourage build-out of broadband networks in rural areas. “We’re still in the process of reviewing, but overall we’re very pleased with the details,” says Brian Mefford, the group’s chief executive.

One key provision in the package, he says, is funding for the Broadband Data Improvement Act, a bill signed into law by President Bush that provides grants to help states map their broadband infrastructure in detail, a key step in the process of addressing service needs. The bill, when passed, contained no provision for funding. But the House stimulus package calls for funding it to the tune of $350 million.

It looks like the vast majority of the funding is targeted at rural areas because the language is focused on grants and incentives in unserved and underserved areas, and in most cases that’s going to point to rural areas,” says Mefford.

Despite the criticism, policymakers aren’t panicking. They know that this is just a first step. House members will still negotiate with the Senate, where some of the more contentious issues may be resolved. For example, the Senate version may include tax incentives for broadband and more money for the universal broadband effort.

Hickman County‘s eCommunity Leadership Committee has been working with ConnectedNation’s Tennessee affiliate, ConnectedTennessee, in improving technology availability and utilization in our area.

About Daryl Phillips, CEcD

I am a professional economic developer. I presently work for communities and companies in developing and implementing workforce and economic development solutions as CEO of Phillips Economic Development Solutions (Phi EDS). Prior to September 2017, I was the economic development professional who served a community team of elected officials, business people, community leaders and dedicated stakeholders for economic development in Cheatham County, Tennessee (pop. 39,880) and its four towns. During my five-year tenure, I served the team as Cheatham County grew over 1,700 jobs, turned around population declines at the start of this decade into healthy population growth, increased tourism expenditures 20.3% and local tax revenue from tourism 25.4%, grew sales tax revenue 36%, focused on developing the local workforce and was recognized by SmartAsset as having the 9th highest Incoming Investment Index of all the 95 counties in Tennessee. I am a member of International Economic Development Council, Southern Economic Development Council, Tennessee Economic Development Council and International Council of Shopping Centers. I have earned the designation of Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) from International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) certification from National Development Council and hold a Master of Business Administration from Tennessee Technological University.
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