Read the Bills Act Coalition

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Broadband Is Job Stimulant For Virginia

Guest Post by Tim Early,
President/CEO, Hampton Roads Technology Council

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration has awarded $21.5 million in broadband stimulus projects in southern Virginia. Although these projects are directed specifically at connecting Virginia Tech campuses and bringing broadband to public schools in Blacksburg, Bedford and six counties in the Appalachian region of Virginia, one report states “the projects will be high-speed and open to any ISP to build out to the community.” That means many households and businesses, which have not had broadband available to them will be able to have the benefits of high-speed access to the Internet.

It is no secret that Virginia is bifurcated. The high-tech/military/government-based region in the northern portion of the Commonwealth has not been as negatively impacted by the economic slow-down as other regions. However the farther you go down I-95, the greater the impact of the recession. In southern and southwestern Virginia unemployment is running much higher than in the north, and is higher than the national average. Most economists and just about every politician is pointing to small businesses as the principal driver in creating jobs. Many of those small businesses cannot exist without broadband.

Over the past several years the technology sector has been one of the few which has added jobs while the rest of the economy was shedding over eight million jobs. These jobs range from the major network providers, which have invested over $100 billion over the past two years, to individual programmers writing smart-phone apps in their homes.

The value of broadband extends well beyond high-tech activities. Utilizing broadband, retailers and small manufacturers can expand their marketing area from anywhere in their town or county, to anywhere in the world. Anyone who has lived in a smaller city or town knows how a relatively few new jobs, bringing a few new families can have a major economic impact because 30 – 100 new families need everything from groceries to shoes, to haircuts providing a significant multiplying effect. Broadband access to the Internet may well turn out to be the fuse which lit the economic recovery in southern Virginia – and the nation as a whole.

As a member of the newly created Broadband for America Virginia Advisory Board, I am working with a group of citizens in the Commonwealth to develop programs that deliver the message that broadband Internet creates jobs and provides opportunities, which foster the growth of small businesses and enhance the lives of every citizen. Broadband for America’s core mission is bringing broadband Internet to every home and business in the nation, and there is no better to place to start than right here, in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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