It has long been understood that infrastructure — good roads, bridges, electrical grids, water systems — is important for a region’s economic development.
In the 21st century, access to broadband Internet service is another critical factor in growing an economy. Fortunately, state officials in Nebraska and Iowa are looking for ways to expand and better utilize the technology.
“Broadband is the electricity of the future, and it’s going to be critically important to economic progress,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said in announcing a new initiative called “Connect Every Iowan.”
The effort will seek ways to improve broadband access across the Hawkeye State, especially in rural areas, and make recommendations for consideration by the 2014 Iowa Legislature.
Branstad noted that broadband Internet also likely will play a key role in the future of education, adding that he doesn’t want any Iowan left out.
In Nebraska, Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann recently unveiled an initiative aimed at helping Nebraska companies maximize their use of broadband Internet technology. Heidemann, who chairs the Nebraska Information Technology Commission, said the commission’s vision is “to improve the quality of life of all Nebraskans by promoting the use of information technology in education, health care, economic development and all levels of government.”
There are plenty of examples: A western Nebraska commercial cattle feeding operation uses broadband to track everything from feed to the health care of each animal to shipping. A family-owned meat processing facility in southeast Nebraska has used the Internet to serve a much wider market.
As a Brookings Institution vice president testified to Congress last year, “Broadband is a crucial driver of job creation and economic growth.”
It’s good that both Nebraska and Iowa are logged in to expanding use of this important technology.