By Ann Treacy
Calix recently released a report that looks at what rural areas are doing with broadband, based on bandwidth use. Video streaming and Internet browsing topped the list, but number three was business services, which accounted for 40 percent of upstream traffic.
In the last month, the Blandin on Broadband blog has highlighted several stories on how Minnesota businesses are better using or accessing broadband as well as how residents are using broadband to accomplish business goals. Many stories come from Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) initiative which has helped encourage local broadband use through many rural towns and counties in Minnesota, including many efforts to increase business and economic use of the network.
- Through MIRC, Itasca County created a series of digital literacy classes that highlighted online banking and financial literacy for area residents. They also offered a series of ebusiness classes through University of Minnesota Extension.
- After working to encourage residents use for several years, the local fiber provider in Jackson (Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services) is now actively marketing to local businesses.
- Through MIRC, Leech Lake Reservation is working with the Cass Lake Chamber to get local businesses online – starting with asset mapping of the community.
- Through MIRC, Stevens County has built a website that improves communication between local landlords and student-renters. This has increased business opportunities for landlords who are interested meeting code standards and communicating with potential renters (and their parents).
- Through MIRC, Winona has created a new website that better promotes the area to business and individuals looking to relocate. Winona is fortunate to have more jobs than qualified people; they are hoping to create a balance with a better digital presence.
- Through MIRC, Windom created a directory of local businesses intended to increase visibility for the community as a whole and for each individual business.
- Through MIRC, Worthington was able to increase the resources available to local businesses, such as a mobile computer lab for the local incubator space – a feature that encouraged at least one local business not to relocate to a neighboring state.