This project has provided tangible means for residents in seven rural Virginia counties with underserved populations to better participate, if not prosper, in an economy that thrives on the exchange of timely information between producers and consumers of goods and services.

The development of an electronic village provided a focus and a framework for community members to discuss significant issues facing their communities and appropriate uses of technology for improving both their social and economic environments.

Each county now has a team of motivated individuals who can provide leadership in matters involving the use of information technology to aid in economic development and building community capacity. These individuals went through the Take Charge (or equivalent) community planning process, to inform themselves of issues facing the county and attended training sessions to educate themselves on the appropriate use of technology to solve problems that faced their communities.

The leadership team also has access to a technology master plan that outlines their most likely technology infrastructure options and suggests next steps that might be taken to achieve the vision that they articulated during the consensus building phase of this project. They're committed to establishing a resource base to ensure sustainability of this project. Examples of these efforts include writing proposals to bring broadband to rural areas, forming partnerships with local school systems to ensure that there is a trained work force, and involving the Chamber of Commerce in supporting technology initiatives for new and existing small businesses. 'The process has provided a turning point in Cumberland County' - Cumberland County resident.

Residents in the counties where we created electronic villages increasingly are using the Internet to look for resources within their own counties. Local home-based and micro businesses are using the Internet to promote themselves and make their communities more aware of the choices available to purchase goods and services locally and to support local businesses. This in turn has encouraged other businesses to list themselves on the Village Mall and to use Web sites and the online mailing lists available through the Virtual Business Incubator. As a result, local organizations and businesses have unprecedented exposure in their communities through a new marketing and communications channel. At the same time, end users have convenient access to that channel and are using it to inform their choices about how they might spend their time and money, increasingly to local benefit.

Residents also are benefiting from the online 'Community Connections' listings. Non-profit faith based and social organizations as well as clubs are using Web sites and online mailing lists to make residents more aware of their offerings thereby increasing community 'networking' opportunities for end users.

Residents use the Community Calendar to become more aware of Board of Supervisors, School Board, and other government meetings.

Online discussion boards on electronic village Web sites are providing a forum for residents to ask questions, seek clarification from, and provide responses to county leadership thereby increasing awareness of local issues. End users have a new means to make their voices heard by elected officials and other community leaders.

This project has empowered all the communities where it was implemented. The counties for this project were selected because they had a large disadvantaged and underserved population. They also didn't find much help from individuals, businesses and other organizations located outside their communities.

Now, instead of depending on people on the outside to help, they have a team of local residents who are in a position to guide their leadership on various issues that face them. Instead of feeling like they were left behind, they now realize that they have a start toward the skills and knowledge they need to participate in the Information Economy. Alliances with the School Board ensure that youth initiatives are supported. This helps the county have a more qualified workforce and retain residents who can continue to help it grow. Perhaps for the first time, they have started believing in themselves as the following quote from a Craig County TLT member indicates -- 'Now we feel like we are a part of the mainstream society.'

The Dickenson leadership team chose to launch the Dickenson County Electronic Village using their local Chamber of Commerce, which helped draw a large crowd for this event.

This project 'busted paradigms' in Cumberland County according to feedback received from the Cumberland County Technology Leadership Team members during a focus session held on Feb 11, 2004 to discuss project outcomes. Responses received during that meeting indicated that for the first time, citizens, local government, educators, and other sectors of the community came together. They were willing to travel and meet in the middle of the county in a county that typically doesn't want change. 'And they never expected it would work.' 'The process has opened doors into the community.'

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