Education, broadband as economic development

Iron Range newsTwo items across the wires today illustrate the often unheralded spurts toward actual economic development and diversification in rural, post-industrial places like northern Minnesota’s Iron Range.

First, the work of my colleague Ken Strukel at Hibbing Community College was featured in today’s Hibbing Daily Tribune. He’s developed a computer application design program at HCC, training students how to develop computer and device apps for the commercial and public service sectors. Though developing apps is not new, this new program is a step toward giving northern Minnesota students marketable skills and entrepreneurial capabilities for a growing field.

Second, Gov. Mark Dayton made an offer for the legislature to deliver broadband expansion funding for rural Minnesota. The Iron Range region (particularly the growing township around the Range cities) would benefit from such funding. Non-metro economic development requires closing huge gaps in access to high speed internet and knowledge of how to parlay that technology into economic opportunity.

In this, it feels like these two rather overlooked pieces of news today represent tangible opportunity to take this state into the future. Sure, it might get lost in coverage of a 12-hour debate on school bullies, but here is real function. Here is real opportunity.




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