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February 19, 2017

Apply now for broadband pilot project

Participants at the Connect Your Economy Practical Seminar in Pikeville attend a breakout session. The two-day seminar gave practical information and resources to communities regarding a demand-driven approach to economic development through broadband.

Participants at the Connect Your Economy Practical Seminar in Pikeville attend a breakout session. The two-day seminar gave practical information and resources to communities regarding a demand-driven approach to economic development through broadband.

Connect Your Economy Practical Seminar announces $15,000 pilot project to help communities leverage broadband for economic growth

Access to high-speed broadband has the potential to change the economic landscape of Eastern Kentucky, and three communities could tap into those resources in a pilot project that focuses on driving small business growth via broadband.

The pilot project was announced at a recent Connect Your Economy Practical Seminar presented by SOAR and the Kentucky Association for Economic Development in Pikeville. The two-day seminar gave practical information and resources to communities regarding a demand-driven approach to economic development through broadband.

“The Center for Rural Development is leading the effort to bring high-speed, affordable broadband to Southern and Eastern Kentucky through our partnership with the KyWired project,” said Larry Combs, manager of Broadband Implementation. “Our goal is to use this access for economic growth and to create jobs. Seminars, like this one, help communities recognize the potential economic benefits of being online, with high reliability, and at very fast data speeds.”

Guest speaker Mark Lautman, founding director of the Community Economic Lab, a private not-for-profit think tank, discusses tech-led strategies for rural economies at the Connect Your Economy Practical Seminar in Pikeville. The seminar was presented by SOAR and the Kentucky Association for Economic Development.

Guest speaker Mark Lautman, founding director of the Community Economic Lab, a private not-for-profit think tank, discusses tech-led strategies for rural economies at the Connect Your Economy Practical Seminar in Pikeville. The seminar was presented by SOAR and the Kentucky Association for Economic Development.

The seminar encouraged attendees to apply for a pilot project to help their business community leverage broadband for economic gain. Three communities will be selected to receive in-kind services valued in excess of $15,000 each. These investments will specifically target local business growth leveraging broadband and provide businesses the tools and resources needed to grow and create jobs.

Selected communities will work with Ian Mooers of Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program and eTeam partners to help up to 10 businesses per community identify new markets for business growth, explore their online presence, and develop skills in e-commerce, marketing, and social media business practices.

“The availability of high-speed broadband simply creates the potential for new job creation and for rural communities to develop a thriving economy,” Combs said. “KyWired helps make that possible by providing increased broadband access in Eastern Kentucky, which is the first step. Connecting Your Economy eTeams will be working on a vital next step—developing productive use of that access.”

The eTeams will give businesses the resources to generate a return on investment from broadband and provide a demand-driven approach to broadband access. For communities working on deploying broadband “last-mile connections” or the supply side of the equation, a SOAR Last Mile action team has been formed to assist with the complicated infrastructure picture.

For more information on the pilot project, visit www.soar-ky.org/connect. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2017.

To learn more about KyWired broadband project, visit www.kentuckywired.ky.gov or call The Center for Rural Development at 606-677-6000.

McKinzie Price Loutre, sales associate, and Jenny Williams, director of Charitable Giving and Donor Relations for The Center for Rural Development, talk to some of the participants at the Connect Your Economy Practical Seminar in Pikeville.

McKinzie Price Loutre, sales associate, and Jenny Williams, director of Charitable Giving and Donor Relations for The Center for Rural Development, talk to some of the participants at the Connect Your Economy Practical Seminar in Pikeville.

The Connect Your Economy Practical Seminar was presented by SOAR and the Kentucky Association for Economic Development. Other partners included the Mississippi State University Extension, the International Economic Development Council, Strategic Networks Group, Community Economic Lab, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Jackson Energy, and Gearhart Communications.

Representing The Center for Rural Development at the seminar were Larry Combs, manager of Broadband Implementation; McKinzie Price Loutre, sales associate; Jenny Williams, director of Charitable Giving and Donor Relations; and Gretchen Wheeler, marketing development specialist.

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