Thursday, March 24, 2011

Broadband and Economic Development - a hard look at job creation from all angles

[A very timely and important issue – BSA]

Dear Colleagues,
Of the many great challenges that the United States faces today, none is more important or urgent than spurring robust economic development in our communities across America.
This is a challenge that transcends the political, regional, philosophical and other considerations that often divide us. It is a challenge that we have no choice but to meet without delay if the United States is to remain a great nation in the increasingly competitive global economy.
While there is a growing body of evidence that a strong connection exists between broadband and economic development, we still have much to learn about strengthening that connection and accelerating its positive results. To do this, we need answers to several critical questions: What exactly is economic development? Does it come in different flavors, some of which create more and better jobs than others? How is it measured, evaluated, and compared? When, where, why and how does it occur? How does it address new technologies and evolving global conditions? What are its key success factors? What are the technological, financial, legal, educational, social and other barriers that constrain it, and how can these barriers be overcome? Why do seemingly similar efforts work in some places and fail in others? How do participants from different disciplines view economic development, and how can we leverage each other’s strengths? How can we meet the accelerating needs of our 100 million young people for ever more robust broadband capacity? How can the public and private sectors work together more successfully, in a spirit of common purpose and mutual respect, to drive economic development?
A Full-Day Program at the Summit
Broadband Properties has given me the opportunity to organize a full-day program at its annual Summit in April 2011 to examine these and related issues. The program will be entitled “Broadband and Economic Development: A Hard Look at Job Creation from all Angles.” Knowing that affordable access to advanced communications capabilities has become an increasingly important component of economic development, we will emphasize the role of broadband throughout the day. We will also view economic development from many other angles, with the help of educators, economic development professionals, workforce development specialists, experts on site selection, real estate developers, economists, members of the financial community and businesses that have recently located or relocated, or are considering doing so. We will hear from government officials at all levels and from representatives of Americans with special needs, including low-income families, persons with disabilities and senior citizens. We will also feature numerous case histories, including both successes and failures.
We hope that this program will not be an end in itself but will be the beginning of an ongoing, multidisciplinary collaboration to accelerate economic development across America. We therefore plan to encourage constructive engagement among our speakers and audience, not just during the program itself but also in the development of the event. If you have suggestions, studies, case histories or other resources that would help make this event and its aftermath successful, please let us know. At the very least, we hope that you will join us in April.

Program Chairman: Jim Baller
Jim Baller is a senior principal of the Baller Herbst Law Group in Washington, DC. He represents clients in a broad range of communications matters nationally and in more than 35 states. He is also the president of the US Broadband Coalition, a large and diverse consortium of organizations of all kinds that helped build a national consensus on the need for a comprehensive national broadband strategy and proposed the framework that is reflected in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. He is also working with Google on its Fiber for Communities initiative.
The Fiber to the Home Council has recognized Jim as "the nation's most experienced and knowledgeable attorney on public broadband matters." In 2001, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors designated him its Member of the Year. In 2007, NATOA made him its first “Community Broadband Visionary of the Year,” for "almost single-handedly putting the need for a national broadband strategy to the forefront of public consciousness." In 2007, Washingtonian Magazine listed Jim as one of "Washington's Best Lawyers" (defined as the top one percent). In 2009, Ars Technica included Jim on its list of the 25 “Top Names in Tech Policy” and FiberToday honored him as its “Person of the Year.”

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