Arkansas Capital Corporation:Connect Arkansas Aims For Positive Link To Internet (Sponsored Report)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jul. 9, 2012 12:00 am  

One of the ways Connect Arkansas is showing high-speed Internet’s relevance is through the utilization of video and livestreaming.

During that time, the per capita income in Arkansas rose from 60 percent of the national average in 1955 to 78 percent in 1978. Manufacturing employment in Arkansas as a percent of total employment increased from 27 percent to 33 percent.

Then, somewhere between the mid-1970s and today, manufacturing slumped. Worse, the per capita income in Arkansas plateaued at 78 percent.

In order to be competitive in today’s global economy, we must adapt to the opportunities of today, Walls said.

“The impact of widespread Internet adoption is rapidly changing the world as we know it,” he said. “People today have access to the entire world regardless of where they may live. People can communicate freely in the exchange of ideas and knowledge or engage in commerce with far away locations.

“Imagine what we recently witnessed during the Arab Spring when young people utilized the Internet to bring about change in their countries. Imagine the wealth and job opportunities we see created every day when entrepreneurs take advantage of this innovation. Google as an example is barely 14 years old and yet has 33,000 employees and a value of $149 billion and saw the opportunities afforded by the Internet. That’s a lot of people who are able to go to work and provide for their families based on something that was developed within a few short years,” Walls said.

As a state we have the the ingrediants to be successful in this new economy, Walls said, noting that Arkansas has plenty of bright people who are willing to take some risks and form new companies around ideas that would not have been possible a handful of years ago.

“We are seeing these bright people accessing information regardless of where they live or what they are passionate about. As leaders in our communities, we need to make sure people have the tools to adapt to this change and be successful,” he said. “High-speed Internet access and adoption are critical pieces of the puzzle in today’s economy just as it was critical for previous community leaders to ensure their communities had access to roads, electricity and water. Leaders of today must add high-speed Internet to that mix if they want to continue being a vibrant community.

“We must take advantage of this opportunity that has been presented to us. We are in a competitive global economy and these opportunities don’t come along very often,” he noted. “We can still drastically improve the economic outlook of Arkansas, but that change must start now. That change starts with every Arkansan having access to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet in their homes.”

Connect is helping build toward that change by focusing on statewide projects that include technology training for adults and their children, putting computers in homes that currently do not have one, youth entrepreneurship training and giving Arkansas business owners access to any information resource they could need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, via the Internet.

While Walls may be a passionate evangelist for high-speed Internet, he’s hardly alone.

“We need to eliminate all the barriers, including a lack of broadband, to attract more people,” Allan Nichols, executive director for Mainline Health Systems in Dermott, said. “People in the Delta do not deserve anything less than people living anywhere else. We can have all the expertise of anyone else in Little Rock or Atlanta – just with that one little cable. The people here are feeding and clothing the world. They are the working poor. The guy we need driving the tractor deserves the same healthcare as the CEO in West Little Rock. He can get the same care as the CEO if we had the technology.”

Incoming Speaker of the House Darrin Williams is on record stating that high-speed Internet will be one of his focuses during the Legislative Session in January 2013.



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