A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Ron Daley: Ready … or not? If we're prepared, broadband can reshape Appalachian region


Is your community ready for the great opportunities to grow the economy and improve the quality of life as broadband fiber optic cable comes to the region? If we are not, then the gap of economic quality will widen in Appalachian Kentucky.
 

As part of my work with our high-performing school districts, our communities and the regional initiatives including Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) and the Promise Zone, I have attended many meetings in order to learn about how fiber optic cable can positively transform our region and economy.
 

We have no one to blame but ourselves if we do not ask these questions, get the right answers and use our mountain ingenuity to advance the region in the New Economy.

We have the window of opportunity to leap-frog the rest of the state and other parts of the country economically or we can fall further behind. I am optimistic, however, here are some questions we need to ask…questions you need to ask your elected representatives or organizations serving your community:
 

‣ Are your county judge-executive and mayor knowledgeable about broadband and are they making arrangements to have staff informed on the issue?
 

‣ Does your county have a plan for the introducing the use of broadband to grow the economy? Does your county have a plan to finance the last mile of broadband getting it to all citizens?
 

‣ Does the Area Development District serving your community have knowledgeable staff assisting your local officials on broadband planning and funding?
 

‣ Has your school district taken The Future Ready Schools pledge to ensure your schools and students are prepared for the Information Age (New Economy)?
 

‣ Are their entrepreneurial programs in your county for youth and adults?
 

‣ Does your county have an active Kentucky Work Ready Community work group focusing on becoming work ready and getting your community digitally literate?
 

‣ Is the community and technical college serving your community one of the leaders in the discussion and being a catalyst for economic development?
 

‣ Are the organizations charged with serving your community economically working together?
 

‣ If your community has an economic development specialist, are they focused on these new opportunities or still chasing big factories and the old industrial model?
 

‣ Are the young people in your community who understand technology and its potential at the table in planning for their future? What is your community plan to attract and keep the millennial (youth) talent to grow your work force?
 

‣ Are your businesses outsourcing some of their work to persons outside the region or around the world which can be done locally?
 

‣ Are you satisfied with just $8- or $10-per-hour jobs that some organizations are chasing using technology?
 

We have no one to blame but ourselves if we do not ask these questions, get the right answers and use our mountain ingenuity to advance the region in the New Economy.
 

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Ron Daley is the strategic partner lead for the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, a consortia of 19 school districts in Southeastern Kentucky.
 
 
 
 
 


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