Intelligent Community Forum searches the world’s successful communities for solutions to help rebuild American prosperity
New York, NY - February 26, 2013 – As U.S. President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address, “there are communities in this country where no matter how hard you work, it’s virtually impossible to get ahead.” In support of the President’s challenge to “build new ladders of opportunity”, the Intelligent Community Forum is offering five ways U.S. communities can seize their destinies to attract and retain high-value 21st century American jobs.
“American culture has always been defined by people in cities and towns who almost by natural instinct find ways to harness innovation and create prosperity,” says Lou Zacharilla, Co-Founder of the New-York-based Intelligent Community Forum and co-author of a new book entitled “Seizing Our Destiny: 2012’s best communities to live, work, grow and prosper in – and how they got that way.”
“Based on our study of 119 Intelligent Communities around the world since 2001, we know that successful ICF cities and towns follow five key criteria to build opportunity for their citizens. Any struggling American town or city can, on its own, emulate these to stimulate job and wealth creation while creating safer, more creative environments,” says Zacharilla.
Expand broadband connectivity
Broadband has been the fastest-growing communications technology in history and spawned the fastest adoption of modern technologies from smartphones to social networks. Yet not everyone, everywhere has benefited equally. Urban areas, high-income neighborhoods, and wealthy business districts are well served, but because of deployment cost, rural regions, and low-income markets remain at the bottom of the priority list, and thus are often at the bottom of the list for job creation and general prosperity. Broadband-friendly local building codes, municipal tax credits to support network development, public-private partnerships, and direct community-based funding for broadband if no private partners exist are some of the ways Intelligent Communities activate infrastructure for bandwidth-based 21st century jobs.
Train and retain a knowledge-based workforce
Today, all desirable jobs in industrialized economies – and increasingly in developing economies as well – require a higher component of knowledge than they did in the past, and those jobs can pay up to five times more. Intelligent Communities can do two things to create a culture for knowledge work: 1) Make a wide range of educational offerings available and actively connect educational buyers and sellers, and ensure that education reaches not only those who can afford it but also those who need it most. 2) Create new educational institutions and services, from computer labs to public Internet kiosks, teacher training programs to online learning tools, so that even small and remote communities become highly competitive in the global battle for talent
Insist on digital inclusion
As broadband deploys widely through a community, there is serious risk that it will worsen the exclusion of people who already play a peripheral role in the economy and society, whether due to poverty, lack of skills, prejudice or geography. Intelligent Communities typically respond by providing free access to computers and connections at public sites like libraries and community centers, as well as by subsidizing computers and connectivity for target groups. And because computer and broadband connection are useless without the right skills, ranging from basic literacy to keyboarding, intelligent communities provide training programs for every age group in schools, libraries, community centers and special purpose facilities.
Support creativity and innovation
Sustainable economic growth is no longer built on attracting the manufacturing facilities, R&D labs or distribution hubs of the world's biggest companies. Why? Because the world's biggest companies are not net creators of jobs. In the 20 years between 1980 and 2000, all of the net growth in American employment came from firms younger than five years old. To attract them, Intelligent Communities provide potential entrepreneurs with advice, help them with paperwork, even represent them before the various licensing and regulatory agencies. They also convince local universities and technical schools to help entrepreneurs license technology on straightforward terms and develop progressive intellectual property policies. Intelligent Communities that make it easier and faster to start and grow a business than its neighbors enjoy a serious competitive advantage.
Inspire marketing and advocacy
Marketing and advocacy are vital to in helping communities survive and prosper in the Broadband Economy. Just like businesses facing greater global competition, communities must work harder than ever to communicate their advantages and explain how they are maintaining or improving their position as wonderful places to live, work and build a growth business. Marketing and advocacy are the final necessary pieces of the transformative process for Intelligent Communities. ICF has shown that many Intelligent Communities have executed – or are in the midst of executing – a shift from post-industrial decline to broadband economy success. Rather than glossing over the problems of the past, they use them to dramatize how far the community has come. In so doing, they highlight the leadership, community involvement and innovation that have powered the transformation.
About Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) studies and promotes the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the demands and seize the opportunities presented by information and communications technology (ICT). To help communities build prosperous economies, solve social problems and enrich local cultures, ICF conducts research, hosts events, publishes newsletters and produces its high-profile international awards program. Over more than a decade, ICF has become an international movement that attracts the attention of global leaders, thinkers, and media observers. The ICF Foundation consists of 119 cities and regions that have been designated as Intelligent Communities by ICF and which participate in an ongoing global dialogue to strengthen local economies. For more information, go to www.intelligentcommunity.org.
Intelligent Community Forum Contacts
Intelligent Community Forum
Senior Communications Strategist
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