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Blog // Connect Michigan

Connect Michigan Sponsors Attendees to the IDEC Technology Training Course

By Wil Payton

Connect Michigan sponsored six attendees to the International Economic Development IDEC Training GraphicCouncil’s technology-led economic development training in Ann Arbor this week.

The focus of the training is to provide instruction to attendees on how to partner with government, industry, higher education, and the private sector to create a highly integrated network of technology and innovation.

Individuals were selected based on their responses to a questionnaire that included the following:

  • Describe the extent to which you and your organization have embraced technology-led economic development.
  • What broadband or technology challenges are faced by the communities and businesses you serve?
  • What do you hope to learn and implement following the IEDC training session?
  • Why is technology-led economic development important to the communities you serve?

Their responses below provide significant insight on the challenges Michigan communities have encountered and the strategies they are developing to enhance technology infrastructures and to build broadband adoption buy-in with residents and businesses across the state.

“A major obstacle in the area is lack of adequate and affordable broadband access in some portions of the HARBOR, Inc. service area,” said Rachel Smolinski, executive director, Harbor Inc. “Better access and enhanced technology opportunities will attract more people and e-commerce to the service area.”

“We rely heavily on tourism and we know if we can provide services such as broadband, the people coming to our area may be able to extend their visit,” said Mandi Chasey, director of business services, Ogemaw County Economic Development Corporation. “If we can provide services such as broadband then maybe people will then start to think about moving here or purchasing second homes.”

“Our area is rural and has a very hilly, wooded terrain and it has been difficult for many of our communities (especially the more outlying areas) to attract  broadband service providers,” said Jan Kellogg, economic development specialist, Northern Lakes Economic Alliance.  “I hope to learn more about what other regions have done to successfully integrate technology-led economic development methods into their economic development strategy.”

“One of our greatest kept secrets is the beauty of the north and what a great place it is and can be for telecommuters and vacationers,” said Katherine C. Methner, director of business and economic services, Michigan Works Region 7B. “I think we can do a better job of promoting the assets of the north as a place to not only play but also a place where one can play and do business. I am hoping to learn some marketing techniques and just become more informed of the capabilities of broadband and how it affects the local economy.”

“Much of our community does not have access to affordable, high-speed broadband. We also run into network signal problems because of our proximity to Canada,” said Geoffrey Donaldson, senior planner, St. Clair County Metropolitan Planning Commission. “As our community seeks to diversify, technology-led economic development is seen as a major catalyst for our future economic growth.”

“I hope to gain best practice, real life examples of technology driven economic development strategies I can take back to Delta County,” said Vicki Schwab, director, Delta County Economic Development Alliance. “We are looking at developing business incubators which I'd like to gain some additional knowledge on. I'd like to learn more about financing options to attract technology companies to our area.”

Be sure to follow Connect Michigan on Facebook and Twitter for more articles on how technology impacts your life!

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