Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today unveiled their new "Connect Every Iowan" initiative to increase the access, adoption, and use of broadband technology.
The governor and lt. governor have asked the existing STEM Advisory Council's Broadband Committee to develop legislative recommendations to encourage broadband build-out throughout Iowa, particularly in unserved or underserved areas. The committee's first meeting will be Sept. 10, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and its recommendations are expected to be delivered by December 1, 2013.
The committee has also been asked to develop a long-term strategic plan for broadband by January 1, 2015, and to identify and pursue any possible federal funding opportunities or public private partnerships.
"We want to make Iowa the most connected state in the Midwest," said Branstad.
Currently Iowa ranks 11th out of 12 Midwestern states on the TechNet State Broadband Index, behind neighboring states such as Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri and Illinois. The index is compiled from three measures: The household adoption rate of broadband, network speeds of available broadband infrastructure, and the amount of jobs in information and communication technology industries that benefit from broadband technology.
"I'm confident Iowans all across the state will benefit from the initiative -- most importantly, more broadband access means more jobs for Iowans," said Branstad.
According to a study conducted by the Brookings Institute, for every one percentage point increase in broadband technology penetration into a state, employment is projected to increase by 0.2 to 0.3 percent per year.
"We need to make sure rural Iowa has the tools to stay connected, because connectivity is the great equalizer," said Reynolds. "Connectivity will allow us to preserve rural Iowa, while keeping us competitive with other states for economic development projects. We believe every Iowan -- from students, to small business owners, to rural health care providers, to public safety officers -- can benefit from this initiative to increase the access, adoption, and use of broadband technology."
The STEM Advisory Council's Broadband Committee will be co-chaired by John Carver, Superintendent of Howard-Winneshiek Community School District, and Robert von Wolffradt, the State Chief Information Officer. Administrative support and technical expertise will be provided by Amy Kuhlers of Connect Iowa, a non-profit organization which is working in partnership with the Iowa Economic Development Authority to ensure that all can experience the benefits of broadband.
Members of the STEM Advisory Council's Broadband Committee:
Co-Chair John Carver, Superintendent, Howard-Winneshiek Community School District
Co-Chair Robert von Wolffradt, Chief Information Officer, State of Iowa
Amy Kuhlers, Program Manager, Connect Iowa
Robert Denson, President, Des Moines Area Community College
Dave Duncan, President, Iowa Telecommunication Association
Philip Groner, Iowa Communication Network
Karl Hehr, Director of Technology Services, Ames Community Schools District
Galen Howsare, Chief Financial Officer, Iowa Association of School Boards
Karen Randall, Keystone Area Education Association
Michael Sadler, Assistant VP for Public Policy