Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Today’s Internet generates images of hip twenty-something programmers building websites, advertising the latest in pop culture in their dorm rooms or consumers getting in their last-minute bid for a product on eBay or Amazon. Broadband is also ushering in a whole new era of e-commerce in some of America’s least populated regions, such as rural Virginia, and brings the promise of transforming the economy.
In spite of the recession, America’s rural small businesses have grown in the last few years, largely because of broadband connectivity. Broadband access is critical for small rural companies to connect producers of goods directly to retailers and consumers. Today’s cloud-based applications require only basic hardware and a high-speed connection, effectively “sharing” the cost of the service among its users to keep its prices so low.
These innovations allow small businesses, like farms, to access tools to better manage their supply chain by connecting businesses directly with suppliers in real time, circumventing the traditional middleman. These innovations are driving new economic growth and job creation.
For farms, broadband has truly enabled more business-to-business sales, enabling farmers to invest in their farm, buying new equipment, hiring more employees and getting better prices. This “app economy” — which did not exist before 2007 — today supports more than 519,000 jobs across the U.S.
Consumers, as well as small businesses, directly benefit from this innovation. Small, local businesses in our own back yard now are much more efficient, with better products at lower costs, leading to more local businesses opening or keeping their doors open. Thanks to stronger sales, more of customers’ dollars spent at local businesses are recirculated back into their community.
However, for rural businesses to continue to succeed, they need to be connected to high-speed broadband. Unfortunately, Virginia ranks 41 out of 50 states in the percentage of residents in proximity to access points with broadband speeds of 3 mbps or greater. In the rural Southside and Southwest Virginia, broadband access rates are 84.9 percent and 86.2 percent, respectively — far lower than the national average of 97 percent.
Unless this is corrected, our rural businesses and farms will be unable to compete against other modernized areas that have access to broadband Internet.
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