Benoit has just blogged about this USDA document on the economics of rural broadband and its impact on rural areas.
The evidence that broadband into rural areas has a substantial economic impact has been coming thick and fast for years, but it seems it is only now that it is hitting the news agenda. What is also slowly emerging is the impact that FTTH has on rural communities, but more of that later.
As highly respected economist Michael Curri puts it:
Infrastructure investment provides a healthy return in its own right - even for relatively small and rural communities. Broadband infrastructure construction has job impacts immediately in the local economy like typical shovel-ready investments. More significantly, it increases drastically the retention and expansion of businesses and organizations.
The positive effects from broadband infrastructure become even more important in times of economic uncertainty, especially for smaller, rural communities who often have less economic diversity and resilience to withstand the effects of an economic slowdown. The availability of broadband gives enterprises, in smaller or rural communities, the options to expand their market reach and thereby becoming more efficient during difficult economic times. Individuals can use broadband find new opportunities, including supplemental education and skills training, out-of-region employment through tele-working (working from home), and business start-ups.
Need more evidence or should we just pick up our shovels?!