With better broadband, telecommuting could help local economy

Dave Nethaway works from home with his sidekick, Daniel the dog.

Dave Nethaway works from home with his sidekick, Daniel the dog.

— With sufficient technology improvements, the Internet could provide jobs for locals and allow new people to come to the Adirondack Park to live and work at home.

Job opportunities in the North Country is no longer reliant on the industries of mining, agriculture and timber. In rural communities, the future for filling homes and schools with year-round residents and job creation for current residents could come from employment at companies elsewhere through telecommuting.

A roundtable discussion was held at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake on Oct. 24 to address community concerns and educate participants about how to bring successful broadband connections to rural communities. The forum was led by the New York State Broadband Program Office, USDA, and Adirondack Action for a Smart Rural Communities (SRC).

“One of the major talking points was a lot of people don’t have access to broadband,” said Wild Center Director of Philanthropy Hillarie Logan-Dechene. “At the conference, the attending agencies listened to audience questions and gave people the right contacts for them to call if they are serious about improving their broadband connections.”

Topics that were discussed included: USDA Rural Development and New York State Broadband Programs, eligibility requirements, program structures and purposes, funding pathways and statewide needs as well as general discussion on each of the program’s administration.

About 70 community members attended the discussion. Speakers included Bob Puckett of the New York Telecommunications Assoc., Dave Wolf of Development Authority of the North Country, Rob Ottara and Renee Hotte of the USDA.

“There are resources out there for people to bring broadband to their community. The number one person to call would be Angel Liotta, the Broadband outreach director with Empire State Development,” Logan-Dechene said.

If the expansion of broadband is successful, programs such as Adirondack Teleworks — based in the town of Indian Lake — could help open up job oppoprtunities for Adirondackers and lure more telecommuters to the region. Adirondack Teleworks was built to help people find telecommuting jobs anywhere in the Adirondack Park through the Internet.

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