Intelligent Community Forum and the Mississippi State University Extension Service Create a New Global Institute to Aid Rural Community Development

(Mississippi State and New York City, USA – December 3, 2014) – The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) today announced a partnership with the Mississippi State University Extension Service (MSUES) to create a new global Institute to help rural communities thrive in the digital age.

This new Institute is part of ICF’s “Rural Imperative” initiative. Launched last year, “The Rural Imperative” is dedicated to using its method to identify best practices for stabilizing, reviving and preparing small towns and rural communities worldwide to develop vibrant local economies connected to global opportunities. ICF has designated the MSU Extension Service as an Intelligent Community Institute, which is the second such institute in North America. The other is located on the campus of Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio.

“We are pleased to be working with the Extension Service at MSU on this important initiative,” said Intelligent Community Forum co-Founder Louis Zacharilla. “The Intelligent Community Forum was formed to help communities, large and small, re-energize themselves and prepare for the 21st century and its challenging economy. The program at MSU will carry forward our Rural Imperative Initiative, which is an attempt to bring to small and rural communities in Mississippi and worldwide the same technology, opportunities and prosperity that we see in places where population density has historically provided an edge. We believe that the ‘middle of nowhere’ is no more.”

Former Cisco executive, futurist and Intelligent Community Forum Senior Fellow Norman Jacknis heads the Intelligent Community Forum’s Rural Imperative efforts worldwide.

Roberto Gallardo, an associate Extension professor at MSU and the MSU institute’s leader, said Mississippi will become a focal point for a worldwide effort designed to capitalize on the many opportunities and challenges rural communities face when transitioning to and planning for the digital age.

“From workforce development to civic engagement to telehealth to retaining youth, this partnership with the Intelligent Community Forum offers Mississippi’s rural communities, and eventually the Southeast and the nation, a chance to learn from 20 years of research and the identification of best practices,” Gallardo said.

The institute at MSU will conduct both research and outreach on the digital age. The institute will help communities better transition and plan for the digital age through an educational planning process. The institute can also help communities participate in an international Intelligent Community Award process, which creates recognition for communities that excel.

Joy Foy, director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Asset Development Division, said this new collaboration will benefit Mississippi communities.

“The Mississippi Development Authority welcomes the opportunity to work collaboratively with the MSU Extension Service and the Intelligent Community Institute to build on the state’s successes thus far in meeting the challenges of the digital economy,” Foy said. “MDA and the Asset Development Division look forward to the added value that the institute will bring to our existing partnership with MSUES.”

EDITORS NOTE: A video of Roberto Gallardo and Lou Zacharilla discussing the MSU Intelligent Community Institute is available for free and unrestricted use. Here is the link to the video –

About Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum (, headquartered in New York, is a global movement of 134 cities, towns and regions. As an international think tank and Foundation, ICF studies and promotes the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the new demands and seize the opportunities presented by information and communications technology (ICT). To help cities and towns build prosperous economies, solve social problems and enrich local cultures, the Intelligent Community Forum conducts research, hosts global events, publishes books, and produces its high-profile annual international awards program. The Forum has two Institutes in North America dedicated to the study of the movement, with more institutes planned. Global leaders, thinkers, and media observers follow and participate in the ongoing global dialogue initiated by the Intelligent Community Forum. In 2012 ICF was invited to participate at the Nobel Peace Prize conference in Oslo and in 2014, its model and work was recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which, according to the American government, was "aimed at creating a more flexible and responsive system of workforce development to meet the needs of employers looking to fill 21st century jobs.” The Forum’s Foundation has an association made up of over 125 designated Intelligent Communities worldwide, which is represented by mayors and key civic leaders. For more information, go to For more details on the Intelligent Community Forum’s recent publications and programs, visit

Intelligent Community Forum Contacts
Paul Brent
Senior Communications Specialist
market2world communications inc.
Phone: 001-613-256-3939
Email: [email protected]

Louis Zacharilla
Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
Phone: (M) 001-917-715-0711 (O) 001-212-249-0624
Email: [email protected]

Matthew Owen
Director of Operations, Intelligent Community Forum
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