Saturday, April 07, 2007

VT Gov. Flogs Internet Access

At the New(s) England Revolution conference, Vermont Gov. James Douglas calls for telecommunications infrastructure for sustainable growth and innovation.

He says his state has the Creative Economy. It has more authors per capital and many artists. Yet both classes as those in addition to business often need broadband to communicate with clients, patrons or customers. Often too, high-speed connections are not available.

He suggests that having the Oxford University library and the like available for his state's isolated colleges would help them enhance their offerings, while maintaining their identities.

Vermont lags the nation in government's ability to service its citizens electronically, moving up to 41st, but still way down. He wanted 90% broadband by the end of 2007. In the past two years,
they have moved up 20%, but "getting to that last remote home up the mountain" will mark success, at 100%.

The state has made last-mile grants, but wants public/private partnerships to complete the job. By a vote of 132 to 2 the state legislature passed Douglas' bill to create the Vermont Telecommunications Authority. This can raise $40 million bonds to fund and help create wireless towers to finish the job of universal access.

All of New England is aging; Maine and Vermont are one and two oldest average aged states in the country. Seniors "don't take jobs; they aren't in the workforce." That means shrinking workforce. So, the right infrastructure is necessary to compensate.

Douglas is also head of the New England Governors' Council. He admits that columnist Neal Pierce is right that all the states here could benefit from more regional thinking. He points to energy as a great way for the New England States to develop such cooperation.

Note: Cross-posted at Left Ahead!

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