Mitchell, a city of 15,000 on the plains of South Dakota, where it is the center of a region 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 Federal broadband stimulus grant, Mitchell has developed a fiber-to-the-premise network serving every business and residence. Its university and technical school have leveraged the city’s agricultural heritage into academic leadership in precision agriculture, in which farmers use satellite and remote sensing data to develop a highly detailed portrait of their land and apply that knowledge to boost yields.
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 attracted by Mitchell’s network or fostered by its construction. Alone in its region, Mitchell has held onto its population and even achieved modest growth. The sheer intensity of its ICT investment, coupled with an effective plan to leverage its other economic assets, has made this rural city a meaningful node in the global broadband economy despite the size of its population.
Copyright 2013 Intelligent Community Forum