ICF Announces the Smart21 Communities of 2014
October 23, 2013 by Blandin Foundation
It’s time to claim your place in the global economy! How? Take a cue from these cities. On Monday the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) announced their Smart21 communities. Big and small, near and far, these 21 communities have demonstrated new and innovative ways to use broadband technology.
The Smart21 include:
- Arlington County, Virginia, USA
- Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia
- Columbus, Ohio, USA
- Heraklion, Crete, Greece
- Hsinchu City, Taiwan
- Kingston, Ontario, Canada
- Mitchell, South Dakota, USA
- Montreal Metropolitan Area, Quebec, Canada
- Nairobi County, Kenya
- New Taipei City, Taiwan
- Parkland County, Alberta, Canada
- Prospect, South Australia, Australia
- Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
- Taoyuan County, Taiwan
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Walla Walla, Washington, USA
- Wanganui, New Zealand
- Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia
- Winnipeg, Canada
Making a repeat appearance this year is the rural community of Mitchell, South Dakota. With a population of 15,254, Mitchell brings together partners in government, business and education who, together, sculpt their community’s future by leveraging resources. ICF’s 2013 write up says:
This rural city on the plains of South Dakota is no stranger to the rural challenge of population loss, which began with the mechanization of agriculture in the 1930s. It is the largest city in an area that has lost 30% of its population over the past 70 years. But Mitchell has carved out a sharply different destiny. With a willing private communications company and a broadband stimulus grant, Mitchell has developed an FTTP network serving every business and residence. Its university and technical school have leveraged the city’s agricultural heritage into academic leadership in “precision farming.” As part of a strategic plan called Focus 2020, both engage closely with city government, business, primary and secondary schools and a major hospital to promote digital literacy and supply the highly trained workforce in increasing demand by area businesses. These include growing software companies, data centers, customer service centers and communications consulting firms. Mitchell’s master plan concentrates on education, healthcare, infrastructure and efficient government as the keys to maintaining quality of life while promoting the best possible business environment. Alone in its region, Mitchell has held onto its population and even achieved modest growth, and so faces the new century with new confidence.
Communities nominate themselves using a questionnaire fashioned after ICF’s Intelligent Community Indicators. These indicators provide a way to “determine a community’s competitiveness in the broadband economy” (ICF, Intelligent Community Indicators).
ICF Intelligent Community Indicators were first applied to rural communities during the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) program. Used to inform and enhance eleven rural Minnesota communities’ use of broadband in community and economic development, MIRC’s use of the indicators showed that, in the 21st century community, you can live where you want and forge your own path to prosperity.
For example, Windom, a town with more jobs than people, is now using broadband as a way to attract new residents. Thief River Falls renovated their Technology Connection Center and held a series of e-business classes to encourage small business entrepreneurs to take full advantage of broadband technology. Lac qui Parle County turned an old bus into the Computer Commuter, a great way to connect all residents to one another, to their loved ones and to online resources.
ICF’s indicators guided the MIRC projects and helped to measure the impact they had on local economies. Like MIRC communities, the Smart21 have embraced the possibilities that the Broadband Economy presents. So tip your hat to the Smart21 and get to work. We want to see your rural community on this list next year!
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