Broadband Matters: Economic Development
High speed broadband access is an essential component to Iowa as a global leader in business, education and quality of life. Every goal, every initiative Iowa’s leaders embark on has one common requirement - that every Iowan in every part of the state has access to reliable and affordable high speed broadband Internet. It is the defining tool for ensuring a prosperous economy for generations to come.
At the Iowa Economic Development Authority, making the case for affordable access to broadband throughout the state is easy. IEDA Director Debi Durham says it goes without question that in order for Iowa to compete in the marketplace broadband must be a tool everyone has access to. “I go back to this is a global economy. Everything about our economic development agenda is basically how do you connect with that broader world. When you consider 95% of our customers live outside the United States then you have to really say, we’re going to grow our businesses small and large we have to be open to how we navigate that. And the best way to do that is to communicate with them in real time. So that’s why connectivity is so important. It brings that big world and it brings it to Iowa.” Durham says.
Since broadband is part of many individuals’ daily routines, we encourage you to visit and learn more about each area of ICN’s focus. As a highlight, we have broken down for you the economic impact of broadband in specific areas of interest.
High Speed broadband to every school allows access to the same quality education as every other school, whether rural or urban. Iowa students’ sophistication to manipulate technology will be very marketable to national and startup tech companies, and with broadband internet they can stay living and working in rural Iowa. High speed broadband will facilitate recruitment and retention of educators in rural parts of the state who may otherwise choose to live near urban districts.
Telemedicine services benefit economic development in rural Iowa by providing patients with the access to the same quality of healthcare that is often found in larger metropolitan areas. This leads to recruitment and retention of healthcare service providers who value living in rural communities but wish to practice medicine and provide the same quality of care available in urban hospitals.
By providing broadband to public safety, there is a direct economic benefit by creating safer communities. When local police, county, state and federal personnel can communicate effectively, especially in times of emergency or natural disasters, there is a greater chance to effectively managing the toll that may ultimately result in terms of property damage or casualties.
When state agencies have the necessary tools that broadband can deliver, the economic development benefit will be noticeable in terms of providing more efficient government services; thereby lessening the burden on tax payers, and allowing for reinvestment into local businesses.
Broadband is essential in each of the areas outlined above. And the impact on the economy is profound. As a state there is still work to be done to level the playing field for all Iowans in every community. Durham says, “There’s no doubt there’s work to be done. If you look at the fiber map of Iowa there are still a lot of areas that need to be addressed as a state. There are still areas that need a more robust system and there’s that last mile that needs to be addressed as a state. We’ve done a lot on infrastructure but we need to make a conscious deliberate effort to say how are we going to truly execute on the Governors initiative to connect every Iowan.”