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COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET  October 1993, Week 3

COMMUNET October 1993, Week 3

Subject:

FWD: rural development via telecommunications

From:

"R. Bryant" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Communet: Community and Civic Network Discussion List

Date:

Fri, 15 Oct 1993 00:17:36 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (89 lines)

From:   SMTP%"@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu:[log in to unmask]" 14-OCT-1993
 15:58:36.64
To:     SCHLCORAZON
Subj:   rural development via telecommunications
 
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 93 16:55:07 CST
From: "Kenneth E. Pigg" <[log in to unmask]>
Encoding: 4636 Text
Message-Id: <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Return-Receipt-To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: rural development via telecommunications
 
 
Richard:
 
Maybe I can help a little.  I am the Director of the Rural Development Academy
at the Univ. of Missouri and an Extension Specialist in Rural Sociology.  This
is one of the areas I've had some interest in for a couple years.
 
RE:  What types of jobs have been created, in what industries?:  the economic
development literature has some info in it regarding the importance of
telecommunications, especially fiber-optic lines, digital switching, and near-by
point of purchase access (for long distance), in economic development.  These
factors are especially important for "back-office" operations, those divisions
of manufacturing and service industries that process information for purchasing,
inventory management, billing, MIS, etc.  You will recognize that most of these
are not high-wage jobs and require relatively few job skills beyond a few rote
computer skills.
 
RE:  Are there data to support the notion that telecommunities--community-based
computer networks--engender rural economic development?:  No, not really.  There
is a great deal of speculation and theorizing that suggests the potential is
there.  The Aspen Institute published a good book about 1991 on telecom and
rural development which outlines this perspective pretty well.  Handy, in The
Age of Unreason, makes a good argument for how computers and information
networks are changing the way in which companies manage work (decentralizing
processes in foot-loose fashion).  For example, in the Economic Development
Quarterly (Nov., 90), there is a study of the impact of telecom on the graphic
communications industry which suggests that telecom's impact is to push the
speed of the separation of the printing function and the design and layout
functions and remove the need for spatial co-location in the overall process.
Fortunately, it is the design and layout elements of this industry which tend to
be the best paid, high skill work and could be a good place to start a
development strategy.  Another source for general background is the Telecom 2000
report from the National Telecommunications and Information Agency in 1988
titled "Rural America in the Information Age."
 
One of the things which is not clear in your message is the definition of a
"telecommunity" you want to use.  Is it a place which has the kind of telecom
infrastructure or is it a community of like-minded individuals and groups with
the same purpose in mind?  If your telecommunity is place-bound, then the
insfrastructure issues become very important and you should be working with your
telco to insure adequate investment to provide the necessary levels of service.
In addition, you may wish to push for immediate applications, such as in
education and health, to off-set the investment costs of providing service to
all residents.  This trade-off is discussed in another EDQ article (May '90)
entitled  "Telecommunications and Economic Development Policy" by G.G. Schwartz.
I know of many communities (places) where investment in this infrastructure has
assisted in producing private investment in new or expanded businesses.  In the
Oklahoma panhandle (Guymon) exists an example which began as an investment for
educational improvements in the school system.  The development spin-offs have
also been important in producing new jobs, not computer-based however.  Another
approach is represented in GTE's investments in "telecommunications incubators"
in places like rural Kentucky; these incubators provide a full range of telecom
access and support hardware/software to promote the use and applications of
telecom (purchased from GTE, of course).  They were initiated about two years
ago, and I do not have a current update on their success.
 
Your project is an interesting one, on the "cutting edge" where rural
development strategy must be and I will be curious as to its developmental
process(es).  I believe it can be successful, but it will take a lot of
imagination and commitment--like most new endeavors!  I would encourage you to
treat the entire process as an enterprise and seek investors in a new venture,
strategic partners in this innovative approach to business.  First, however, it
is necessary to define the business(es) you intend to be in and develop a
business plan to match.
 
Hope this was helpful.  If I can be of further assistance, let me know.  My
address is included below.
 
Kenneth E. Pigg, Ph.D.
Assoc. Professor
Univ. of Missouri-Columbia
322 Mumford Hall
Columbia, MO  65211
314-882-4350
[log in to unmask]

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