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Broadband e-Connectivity Pilot Program NOTICE OF INQUIRY

DOCKET ID: RUS-18-TELECOM-0004 QUESTION 3: IMPROVEMENTS TO RURAL PROSPERITY

National Minority Technology Council Public Comment

www.nmtcrural.us


Building on the Promise of American Productivity

RuralTech Rural prosperity is not an oxymoron in the 21st Century. With over a decade of rural broadband infrastructure projects coming to completion the E-connectivity pilot can leverage innovation, the promise of a committed workforce and an economic opportunity that is based in the heartlands of America. As a 501c6 Trade Association focused on over 65,000 minority technology companies, the National Minority Technology Council (NMTC) is positioned to support and encourage the framework born from the October 21, 2017 Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agricultural and Rural Prosperity. NMTC’s industry goal to reach $1 Trillion in combined sales is our lightening-rod, engaging citizen based growth algorithms that scale. Embracing electronic connectivity (E-connectivity) brings life to productivity for small business and is, for emphasis I quote Secretary Perdue, “fundamental for economic development, innovation, advancements in technology, workforce readiness, and an improved quality of life. Reliable and affordable high-speed internet connectivity will transform rural America as a key catalyst for prosperity.” E-connectivity, from the perspective of the Minority Technology Industry, brings the promise of innovative partnerships, governed outcome metrics, and an integrated approach to the new “Next Gen” convergence of energy, light and data that will grow new “crops” of ready workforce and technology capability. The following comments were developed by our team of Sr. Fellows which is a dedicated group of subject matter experts working to focus on the solution domain. Karl Cureton Executive Chairman, Co-Principal Investigator National Minority Technology Council Looking Forward Research & Development 1629 K ST. Suite 300, Washington D.C., 20006 202-796-7611 | karl.cureton@nmtcouncil.org


NOTICE OF INQUIRY U.S. Department of Agriculture, (USDA) Rural Utilities Services (RUS)

PUBLIC COMMENT NATIONAL MINORITY TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL, LOOKING FORWARD RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT BROADBAND E-CONNECTIVITY PILOT PROGRAM DOCKET ID: RUS-18-TELCOM-0004 QUESTION #3

Relevant Prosperity Outcomes must include measures of job growth, training and business sustainability to be meaningful. Central to this industry point of view is the connection between broadband as a physical asset and the knowledge gap that exists for broadband adoption. Reducing the barriers to adoption is a key component to leveraging community and business economic impact. Public/Private participation is necessary to gain a true ecosystem driven return on investment when implementing rural broadband projects. The context of this E-connectivity Pilot Program is informed by the Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America, Rural Infrastructure Program sourced from the White House. Specifically the program highlights are: • improve the condition and capability of rural infrastructure through capital improvements and outcomes-driven planning efforts that enhance private sector productivity, modernize existing infrastructure systems, and prioritize projects essential for efficiency and safety; • expand access to markets, customers, and employment opportunities with projects that sustain and grow business revenue and personal income for rural Americans; • enhance regional connectivity through public and private interregional and interstate rural projects and initiatives that reduce costs for sustaining safe, quality rural communities; and • increase rural economic growth and competitiveness by closing local infrastructure gaps in development-ready areas to attract manufacturing and economic growth to rural America


The establishment of a Transformative Projects Program, outlined in the above White House infrastructure report further expands the possibility for success in the E-connectivity program by combining the USDA RUS funding with the Transformative Projects Program funding sourced from the Dept. of Commerce. As industry explores ground breaking designs and ambitious projects that fundamentally transform the way infrastructure is delivered or operated, risk must be assessed and evaluated up against potential benefits. Energy, commercial space, and broadband mixed-use projects targeting micropolitan statistical areas are possible and our direct recommendation is RUS also considers a value share structure for a component of the funding as thoughtful grant demonstration projects initiated by industry could include a projected revenue profile that includes community stakeholder participation and metrics of employment that ensures an additional tax base increase. This kind of innovation may include Universities. Given the National Minority Technology Council represents the over 65,000 minority technology companies, it is our intention in this public comment to highlight the availability and applicability of including both Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) located across the nation. Industry also believes there is a need for Data Science and it is our recommendation that an emphasis be made on longitudinal evidence-based research that validate project efficacy. NMTC further recommends RUS promotes the use of federal facilities as provided in the Communications Facilities Deployment on Federal Property Act of 2018, given the possibility that the Administer of the GSA may establish a fee exception for E-connectivity projects. A segment of Rural America has the Federal Government as the major contributor to the local economy. Finally, we again encourage the adoption of a “Prosperity Outcome� framework for each E-connectivity grant award. It is critical that the mission of rural prosperity be measured and evaluated up against key indicators for growth like household income and employment. The State Longitudinal Data System is a relatively active and available data set for more detailed metaanalysis of key performance areas. What is key to the success of this program is adoption. The Research & Policy Brief Series, Broadband’s Contribution to Economic Health in Rural Areas, By Brian Whitacre, Oklahoma State University, Roberto Gallardo, Mississippi State University and Sharon Strover, University of Texas affirms the positive effect of broadband on economic gains in rural portions of the country, and the research suggest that government policies dealing with rural broadband may need to have a more explicit


focus on actually adopting (and effectively using) technology. The report concludes, “the traditional focus of these programs on simply providing infrastructure may not be enough to encourage true economic growth. Inasmuch as adopting (and using) broadband must be a focus of digital divide policy, future options must consider the means to encourage people to subscribe to broadband services once they are present.” Truly America needs to harness innovation, technological innovation and enhance worker efficiency and at the core is an expansion of STEM education, research, and infrastructure and rural data management capabilities. The E-connectivity can provide a pathway to more productivity for our rural communities. Supporting Public/Private partnerships that connect broadband to workforce readiness will realize a bright future for these United States of America.

The National Minority Technology Council (“NMTC” or “Council”) is organized as a non-stock 501c6 research trade institution with members located in 40 Districts across the United States. The core purpose of the Council is to help its members become more profitable and successful. The Minority Technology Industry is a vibrant, fast growing and viable business segment. The Minority Technology Industry's combined annual revenue is estimated at over $100 Billion. Our belief is there is strength in numbers; when there is trust and collaboration. As the U.S. demographics continue to trend towards the minority becoming the majority, it is critical our nation capitalize on the growth of minority business. Through our efforts minority tech employers now gain access to both contracts and new talent resources, which in turn has an impact on in our communities and on our success as individual business owners.

www.nmtcrural.us National Minority Technology Council Looking Forward Research & Development www.nmtcouncil.org | council@nmtcimpact.org 1629 K ST. Suite 300, Washington D.C., 20006 202-796-7611

Prosperity Outcomes: USDA E-Connectivity Industry Public Comment  

E-connectivity, from the perspective of the Minority Technology Industry, brings the promise of innovative partnerships, governed outcome m...

Prosperity Outcomes: USDA E-Connectivity Industry Public Comment  

E-connectivity, from the perspective of the Minority Technology Industry, brings the promise of innovative partnerships, governed outcome m...